Jacky, Madi, Michael, and Lancing

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Late on Saturday night (8-21-2010) I had many LOUD conversations occurring in my head at the same time. We've all had them, you know... The "what if" conversation and all of the "what ifs" brothers, sisters and all the rest on down the line. These conversations and thoughts seemed to subside rather quickly when I finally allowed the tears to flow. I realized that I had remained neutral to the news of this "punk bitch" living inside me. Like it or not, it really IS there and must be dealt with. At this realization, I cried and then... I cried some more. Of course my amazing wife was there with me and gave me the boundless space to process it all, from way back in late January and then with all the signs that lead up to that "moment".

The Word says "the truth will set you free". I am standing in MY truth. Free. Prepared to fight for my life. Here is the story.

Late January 2010, at about 3:00 am, I awoke to a pain in my stomach that buckled me over. Sitting on the side of my bed holding myself wondering what the hell was going on. About an hour or so later, I tried to lay back down and found, that if I laid on either side, the pain would substantially decrease. I was, finally, able to get back to sleep. This repeated for the next three nights. Exactly the same scenario. I asked Jax to buy some Gas-X because anyone who knows ME, knows that I am... let's say... prolific in the gas category. ;-) I consumed some Gas-X and I no longer was awoken with that severe stomach pain. So we're making progress... I thought!

About a month later, lying in bed one morning, I was "taking stock", doing a quick check of my SORE body because of the training that I had been doing. Shoulders, ugh-arms (tri's and bi's) oh, don't push so hard. OUCH! Lying, wondering what was I doing this to myself for... ;-) Jax will tell ya, she liked how it was all workin out. She suddenly had, as she puts it, "a 20 year old, where did you come from?". Well, I made my way down past my chest, and pushed ever so gently on an area left of my belly button. There was a very small "thing" there. I pushed and poked some more and it didn't seem to mind that I was messin' with it, but I KNEW that it was NEW.

A great friend and mentor, Professor Bob Anderson, had told us when we were training, that it was important to pay close attention to our bodies during combat. It didn't matter if it was on the street, or in the cage. Be "MINDFUL" he would say. Take stock of the damage, if any, or take inventory. I take his advice and experience very seriously, and was doing what I had been told. I was paying attention, being mindful.

Now, a few weeks went by with no "real" changes in the PB (punk-bitch). It's early March. It hasn't gone away, but hasn't gotten bigger either. Another night of mild pain leads me to talk to our friend and primary caregiver. Her name is Heather. She and her father have a family practice. She lives just down the street from us. So I called her and asked if she would check this PB out. She said of course and to come on down. I walked over, and she had me lie down on my back. I showed her where it was and she started feeling around. She asked if it hurt, or if I'd felt a muscle pull, or anything, during training. No, I hadn't noticed anything like that. I've had many muscle pulls, and strains in my athletic career, and at almost forty I was paying very close attention to what was going on. I did a sit-up type exercise for her, and PB acted just like a muscle knot. It moved, but didn't disappear inside my abdomen. It was acting like a muscle. She told me to keep my eye on it, and that I should probably take some time off from training to let it heal up. I told her that fight team tryouts were in a couple weeks. I needed to get ready for that, but afterward I would do as she said.

Tryouts came, I made the team. A whole new world had just been presented to me. Jacky and I talked about it, and we agreed that I should start a new kind of training. Workouts went from an hour, or so, a couple days a week (still including Tae Kwon Do) to a rigorous morning conditioning and then, at least a couple hours more at night working on specific MMA stuff. Training went off the charts and I was getting in the best shape of my life. I was CONSTANTLY SORE!! Stronger, faster, and lethal. I was sore ALL THE TIME, though.

I noticed around my 40th birthday that I was having a hard time with simple, very light muscle use to do things like open the jelly jar for LP (Lancing Parker), or even to break the seal on the milk. I made a comment to Jax, but we both chalked it up to workouts. They continued to grow in intensity and duration. I felt great when I was on the mat and training. I felt STRONG. MMA is rockin our world.

Fast forward a few weeks...

We are told that our gym, TapouT-Antelope Valley, will be hosting a fight on July 10. I found out that I would be fighting. This is awesome! Training gets an overhaul and I start going as little as 3 hours EVERYDAY, but more commonly 4.5-5 hours everyday, six days a week. I was BEYOND sore everyday, but it is all for the goal to be realized on July 10. I made serious changes in my diet for the better and started to make a small weight cut for the fight. I weighed in for the fight at 179 lbs. I think I haven't weighed 179 lbs since high school. The fight night came and I was beaten by a better fighter than me on that night. I still have an amazing time, and I realized a dream. Too cool. Well, due to the injury I received during the fight I was "benched" to let it heal. NO SIGN OF CHANGE FROM PB. Still there, but NO CHANGES. I stayed involved at the gym, teaching classes, or leading fight team practices. Business as usual, and letting my elbow heal. No big deal!

Approximately 4 weeks after my injury, and several cortisone shots later I was cleared to get back on the mat and start training, but I was warned to start out slow. Oh yeah right! ME, start out slow? NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! :-) That day was Thurs. Aug. 12. I did some classes and did a survey of how my elbow felt. Still sore, but certainly better, and NO CHANGE FROM PB. I haven't been sore in a few weeks from the time off. Friday night is fight team practice and we did a workout that was right back where I wanted to be. We do "PT for Convicts". A grueling combination of cardio and strength training. I am SO back! We partnered-up and finished up practice. From 5-7 on that night I was inspired to be doing it again.

The morning of Saturday, August 14 I was lying in bed taking stock, and holy crap, I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE. Oh my gosh... this was more like it! No Pain, No Gain. I did the usual poking around and massaging to get this now 40 year old machine going. I check on PB. No change. On the lower right side of my stomach, moving across to the left. NOTHING. Lower on the left side of my belly I feel something IN my stomach that is HUGE. My first thought was, "what the "pleep" (a four letter word that starts with f) is that?" I keep poking at it. It's not sore or tender at all. My next thought was, "this can't be good!" I get out of bed and get my groove on. Coffee, get dressed and grab my bag. Let's do this! Fight team at 9:00 and I can't be late. I check it when I am standing and it disappears. That's interesting.

I got to practice and saw Professor. I asked him to come over. He did. I asked him if he knew anything about hernia's. He said he'd had a couple over the years. I laid down on a bench in the gym and asked him to feel my new findings. I show him and he pushes gently and quickly removes his hand. Tilts his head and says "wow-that's odd! You should have Heather look at that! For today, I want you to take it easy." I nod to him. Well, we warmed-up with a mile run, and moved into MMA mode. Everything seemed normal. We finished up with team, and Professor and I made plans to meet up a little later, because we were going to be the cornermen for our fighters that night. We met at Heather's place. She checked it out. Immediately, she said she wanted me to go into the office first thing Monday morning.

Flash ahead to Monday morning. I went to the office. They put me in an examination room. Heather came in and checked it out again. Asked if my appetite was still good, yes. Asked if it was sore, or if it hurt, no. More questions, but ultimately she had her Dad come in and take a look at it. He came in and was poking at it like we all have been. He stopped and looked at Jax and I, and says, "I don't like this at all. Nope, not one bit." He told us we needed to get some pictures of it. We got a referral to get in asap at the imaging facility, to get an ultrasound. We find out it's approximate size. It's 13 to 15 cm's. It turned very serious very quickly! I told them I wasn't ready to have a baby right now. Ahhh, laughter.

We return back to Heather's office and she and her Dad want an immediate CT Scan. They're saying all these things like, "with and without contrast", "we want to see where it is originating from" and "it needs to happen NOW". Well, Lance and I left the office and headed on home. The plan was that when we got the appointment for the CT Scan we'd head back over.  I asked Lance if he'd be interested in a Jamba Juice. A special little thing we had started to do. He said yes, so we were off. I think I was equally as happy as he was about this new plan: A Power Strawberry Energizer with immunity and protein boosts was the ticket. Lance likes the Chocolate Moo'd.

It was pretty quiet in the van for about 10 minutes, until Lance turned and asks me, "WHY do people get cancer." I do my best at answering the question without making any alarming comments. He is a sensitive young man, and I was sensitive to that. He seemed to grasp what I have said and then turned and put his head out the window, opened his mouth and let it fill with air. His mouth expanded with the air. We both cracked up. He returned inside the van and asked, "Daddy, if you die, will you still be able to give me advice when I am growing up?" INSTANTLY I was in tears, full-blown body-shaking sobs. I looked at my sweet boy and swore to him, I would. I promised him, I would. I told him that I loved him dearly, and that was the sweetest thing he had ever said. My mind was reeling. While we were at Jamba Juice, we got the call. Go immediately to Advanced Imaging. Do not pass "go", do not collect $200. They were willing to see us right away. I got there with Lance, and Jax met us there. We call our dear friend, Mike Douglas, to come and get LP. This all went off without a hitch.

After some paperwork, and a glass of the nastiest-tasting-crap-I-have-ever-had later, I was standing in a room, in a gown, with my boxer-covered buns hanging out. Yeah, my toes are still painted!! I am a fighter now, and will be, forever and ever! With what is looming in the unknown, it made a handy conversation piece. Thank you Lord, a distraction. I lay down on the paper covered slightly padded "bed". Shirley, the attending nurse, hooks up a "hep-lock" so I can get the contrast pumped into my shocked body.

This just didn't seem like it is was real or even plausible. The CT began with the clamor of the machines... We went through the steps and it finally finished. I got dressed. Shirley was a peach and very motherly. I felt ok. I met up with Jax in the lobby. Shirley was very clear that we were NOT to leave without talking to the radiologist. Well, fine. What's another 30 minutes on an already 3 hour chapter of the day? Jax and I sat together and I told her a little bit about it, but what really caught our eye was the stupid TV airing really bad programming. The Dr. Oz Show? I mean really? Wow. Some 10 minutes later, Shirley appears and says in her motherliness, "Ok, so why don't you go on home. Be sure to call your Dr. in the morning, but for now just go on home and have a nice night." ERRRRRRRRRRRRCH!(tire screech) RED FLAG! I'm thinkin', You were just sayin that I couldn't leave until I talked to the radiologist and NOW  "go home and have a nice night!!!"  WTF? Not good! Jax and I left. Out in the parking lot I confess to Jax that I could take that two ways! The one I was feeling most was the worst case scenario. It was so bad that they wanted me and my bride to have ONE last night before the road ends! #&*%(sorry Mom)! Jacky called and talked with Heather. She says she wants to talk to us in person. RED FLAG-AGAIN!!!!!!

Jax and I met at the ranch and did our nightly chores. We bottle fed goats and pigs, fed the chickens, threw some hay for the horse and put out some more for the Momma-goat, who is still with us, and gave us a beautiful boy goat. Fed the dogs and cats. We finished and walked down to Heather's. As we walked in, she was like a mad scientist pulling out shot glasses from her cupboard. Jax asks "....so?" Without turning, she asked if we wanted a beer. Actually, it was more like she insisted we have a beer. "Sure". Jax asked her, again. Heather, even more sternly, insisted on the beer. I glanced over at Jax and saw it becoming clearer. Heather turned and handed over the beers, and dropped the bomb.

I experienced an audio concussion. I couldn't make out everything she was saying. I only heard words like "big", "everywhere", "advanced", "aggressive", "stomach" and "cancer". The metaphorical Mack Truck slammed into me, and I leaned back into my chair. Sheets of white were raining down in my mind. As if made to be scripted in a movie, Professor arrived at the toughest time but absorbed it all. He is a real life, modern day Superman. He rested his hands gently around me, and gave me a safe place to let whatever needed to come out, OUT! Jax was NOT good, she was, understandably, sobbing very, very heavily. The rest of the night the four of us spent together crying, laughing, joking, telling stories of recovery, and more crying. After a bit, Jax and I excused ourselves, and now, I needed to call  Mom and Dad. Now, let me say that I have called my mom with some doozies in the past, and even my dad, but not anything like THIS. Walking home, I called and conferenced with them. Stunned beyond words, neither can say much. Mom asked a few questions, but I had no answers.

Jax and I arrived home. WOW! What just happened? IT happened.  PB had arrived!

1 comment:

  1. well im an old sensitive fool but that took me down and up all at once you are one remarkable young man and that family of yours is beyond belief now I will take my beat up , lucky as hell old ass off to do some work on a rental and be thankful i can even walk not to mention i have to be careful today because everytime i think of you i tear up and fog my glasses. But im doing it with a smile and determination. I want to pass some of my great blessing of health on to you. Thanks again for letting me hang around. You'll be giving advice for many decades to come. Adopted undle Joe the actor wananbe