Week 2

Well, another week is in full swing. I still wake up everyday and hope that this is all a nightmare. I find that true with a lot of things in life over the past year and a half. Nope, no nightmare. Well, other then what I am currently living, lol.

Monday and today have been better days dialysis wise. And a huge plus today in that I went back to work for part of the day. I am not as physically capable as I feel but not far off. I will get back there. Weight wise, it has been crazy! 30 pounds since admittance on 8/15. This leads me to think I had been battling this for far longer then I realize. And blood pressure is text book. Thankfully. Some of that is medication I am sure but man it is nice to have the piece of mind of it being back to numbers I can digest. Sometime being educated is a curse!

So, many conversations with OHSU. The plan is to do as much testing from  home as I can then eventually make the trip for a few days. Some have asked about the testing process on kidney matching. More to come. Trust me I want to know too!

The plan currently is to get on the “list” for a kidney and pancreas. WTF right! I guess if I have to do it I might as well try to get rid of diabetes at the same time. This kind of cuts out the offers of donors for matching so I am a bit sketchy still. Doing both requires a “cadaver” as people do not generally live without a pancreas. That is a bit hard to digest but lots to learn and process.

I get asked a lot how I feel. This is the hard part. I feel physically good! Like I feel no difference before or after dialysis. Obviously I have not pushed limits nor do I plan too but it is a trip! I guess I am lucky for now that this is the case.

I ventured out to the Cake concert last weekend, thanks Ethan! Man it was a great day. We take so much for granted each day. Knock that crap off people. Nothing is guaranteed or promised so try to live that way. I sure am. Sunday I caught up with my old pal and brother Travis Carr. He and his wife came over from the valley for a visit. Then we hit my mom’s house so they could visit and it was a good day. Chantel lunch was kick ass, thank you and Travis so much for the love.

Debbie McEllrath. Fight! The army is still right with you!

Everyday is a roller coaster ride. I have lots of visits from “demons” but am managing. That is kind of hard to say but it is legit. This is something I have been battling for awhile now but it seems to be intensified as of late. So much “no good” to deal with but whatever. Not the time nor the place.

I cannot say thank you enough for all of the calls, texts, social media messages and so on. I feel the support love. I have not gotten to calling or replying to all. Honestly I get a bit emotional with it so I do it in small doses. I have never been good at asking for help or accepting it. I am trying… I really appreciate it though. And from people who we probably go through each day and think of more as an acquaintance the anything else. It is super humbling and super cool. I would be the same way though. I keep hearing that so I guess I need to accept it. I was a rock for a few when they needed it. It is hard when it isn’t reciprocated by them! Dang it is nice to feel overwhelmed with support from others! I know this road is just starting so “thank you” seems like not enough.

A big thank you to Jennifer and Jasper! I mean it. My mom and extended family too. I don’t share much but they have all been crucial in keeping me going and sane.

OK enough of that crap. Enjoy the ride right!?!! I am trying. Cheers to no bad days…

 

 

 

It is Real

Well this dialysis thing is definitely real.

So far I can’t even manage the right clothes to wear. And cold, man, non stop chills. A quick way to lose an appetite for sure too.

I got to sign lots of paperwork. Go figure for something medical right… but how about all the fun of 3 pages of what if’s. If this happens, you might die. If this cap comes unthreaded and you nap you might die…. I know better to over think this stuff but at the same time it is on paper because it has happened. So nice.

The staff seems cool though. Probably the lone positive of this session. Nothing like 3 hours of what if’s.

I have some news on what things are in the works and I got a call from OHSU for the transplant process and testing but I think I will share that later. A bit dejected right now and not on the positive vibe.

So for now, thank god for music and distraction.

This sucks.

And it is only day 1 in a clinic.

Round One

I am taking my old blog a different direction for awhile, maybe forever, as my turnouts may be empty for awhile…

For the past few weeks/months I have not been feeling the greatest. I have managed diabetes since 2003 and like most with the disease have had ups and downs with care. This coupled with major personal and professional life changes, it has been a year of hell. And that is putting it nicely.

Well last week started out no better. I awoke Monday for work and knew immediately something was wrong, way wrong. Since when did walking to the car make me short of breath!

I’d seen my PCP back in October for concerns I had. I wish I would have pushed harder especially with knowing how much I do medically. Swollen ankles isn’t normal. And medication changes that should “fix it” was BS too.

Being my overly stubborn self I pushed through, again. Tuesday felt better, but not much. Spent some time with a good friend after work. Enjoyed it. Wednesday, oh boy… paid for Tuesday. Woke up feeling awful. Once again pushed forward. Went to work, but made some calls and got a doctor visit or two on the books.

It was a weird feeling. I would wake up after sleeping poorly and the slightest exertion had me so winded. And feeling like I had no lung capacity. Like my diaphragm wasn’t functioning. Honestly, it was scary. But as the day went on it got better. Less fatigue, less winded, less concern. I was like, WTH?

Thursday you ask? Yeah, same as Wednesday but woke up with edema above my knees. I had been noticing and trending edema getting worse, but dang man. In my thighs! Hell no! So my thoughts immediately went to CHF. But wait I’m only 40! Hell no.

So I went to work cause that’s what I do. Started my morning, paused during the day for a doctor visit. Oh shit. Here we go. My check in pressure was 200/110 and resting of 110. No good. Sugar was fine but I’m all over that thanks to technology.

So we looked at some things, talked about stuff, then the 12-lead. I didn’t want it. I know to much. Well it eventually happened. I basically had to do it all and read it as the PA was out of practice.

As it turned out it wasn’t bad. Definitely chemically imbalanced but not what I had feared. I kept my view quiet though and the PA was pushing a PE. The driver for that was the shortness of breath. But I knew better. No pain. Feeling winded got better through the day. Nah, something else.

The PA was adamant that I go to an ER. So I agreed to go after handling work obligations. Our version of the timing was different but I kept that to myself.

Once I left the doctors office I finished work. I have bills to pay and work needed stuff done. I wrapped up my day, drove home for a bag “just in case”, and drove to Bend.

They had been waiting. For 4 hours 😳. Checked in and quickly taken back. Shocker, no PE found. But it was just the beginning.

I notified the very few people I felt had to know. Immediately family mainly. I don’t like to scare people. Sorry to some, sharing this kind of thing isn’t my strong side…

Not long after being checked in the lab results came back. No troponin changes, really. I was expecting that to be my fate. Nope. But a creatinine level of 6.5. Ok. This beast is going a different direction then I thought.

I knew, but they didn’t know I knew. So I let the testing go on. Ultrasound, more blood, more urine. And eventually, you might have guessed it. Acute renal failure. Great. How nice.

I have been through hell to say the least over the last year. Didn’t t think it could get any worse.

I was wrong.

So off to a room I went, eventually. Honestly at that point I was thankful they had a room and I wasn’t gonna get shipped out just for a bed.

Tried to sleep but spent the night pondering life and what life would now be. Honestly I asked myself what was the point anymore. That’s kind of hard to admit. But it is true.

Eventually I began to acknowledge that I had no option but to play the hand of cards I was being dealt. Hell that is what I have always done. Why stop now.

So the next morning, Friday, and into the weekend. Oh more tests. More labs. More confirming what was known. Nuclear lung scan, abdominal CT, chest xray, echocardiogram, and eventually a kidney biopsy (yeah screw that, no pain like it).

I had the slight hope that kidney function would return and I could manage it. But deep inside I knew that this would require good luck. And I haven’t had any of that in awhile so I knew better.

Eventually I got the reality conversation Monday morning. Which I had been sadly preparing myself for over the weekend. Yep, dialysis was my fate.

Goodbye prior version of life and welcome to the new normal. Haven’t I been through enough!?!??

Monday around 4 they wheeled me into the cath lab. That’s what I know it as even though I wasn’t having heart stuff done. I had a permacath placed in my right internal jugular. And 20 minutes later while still on a bit of a versed ride I found myself in dialysis. Oh shit. This is real.

And so it began. A short dialysis session. But it brought out all the feels that I had nobody to share with. Alone. Again.

Am I gonna die. How do I work. Bills. Kids. Why? Why me. Why now. All of it flooded my brain. I lost it. All I can say is thank god for versed.

Eventually I gained back some level head. Push forward I thought. A silver lining has to exist. So I did.

Tuesday morning came and off I went to more dialysis. I actually felt pretty good! And just like that, they let me out. With lots of meds and more stuff scheduled. But just like that, go home. Man it was nice to not sleep in the hospital.

Home wasn’t good either though. I didn’t want to accept what I was going home to. Those in my circle know the why of this and it won’t be shared here. But I can say it was another layer to the already messed up reality I am getting. Oh well. Chapter closed.

So now what does life look like. I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out. Here is a start:

I still have all of the questions to answer. Bills. Living. Treatment. Hell Im on a transplant plan now. What does that mean. Disability paperwork, that was easy. But the up to 5 month wait, that isn’t so cool. Work seems unrealistic but how since I actually feel good. And I kind of have to so I have income. This is scary man!

But, survive. That’s what I do. Flourish, that is what I am going to do. I love a good challenge. Bring it. Just wait a few weeks first!

So for those that have asked, here you go. This is what is going on. I am a recluse when it comes to sharing anything really. So this is a big leap for me. But in hope of maybe helping someone else or maybe myself, I have decided to write down what happens. For now anyways. I reserve the right to end this at an moment.

And I’m sure I have used some words wrong, or punctuation blah blah. I don’t care. Don’t read it then. I am no expert.

And for god sake stop taking advantage of life. Each breath is a gift, treat it as such. Please.

Jake✌️

Humbled

Sometimes the pride of our work leads us to opportunities that build more pride.

I had the honor of helping 125 guard members in Oregon go through wildland refresher training this week. A true honor.

It was rather warm in Salem. A Sunbaked day that was beating down on us like any August day. I was surrounded by guard members, who two years before had been trained on how to fight wildfires. Their excitement and boredom were both palpable. There was no mistaking that they were eager to help, but were saddened to be away from family.

Our job was simple, give them the knowledge to be safe and provide them the tools to go home. We knew their job would likely be of mop up and gridding and taking care of the mundane. But we always know that in a moments notice they could be in harms way. It was difficult to explain what harm could be, knowing that most had served somewhere where bullets or IED’s were there threat. But we also knew that in the wrong place at the wrong time, Fire is very unforgiving.

Their smiles were infectious. But there enthusiasm was even more amazing. Without question or negativity they are willing to enter harms way at a moments notice. And they do so with every step of the way leading to a thank you. “Thank you for being here”, or “thank you for helping us”….

I say no that’s not acceptable. They deserve the true thanks. Citizen soldiers. Who on their weekend, or day off, or son or daughter or wife’s birthday, are willing to drop it all and help us.

So the true thanks goes to them.

Thank you.

Thank you for what you do every day for us. I am Humbled, for we are nothing, and they are everything.

.

#wildlandfirefighting #humble

Embrace It

Life….

It is so precious. Yet so abused. Every day is a gift. Yet Every day is taken for granted. In a moments notice, or even less, life can be taken away. Please, please, respect this gift and love life. Love your family. Love your craft. Honor those you work with. Honor those who have pave your way. And most of all, honor those who have gone before you. For they have paid it forward, likely against their wishes. 
Rest in Peace Seargent Goodding of Seaside Oregon Police Department. You will live on in all of us.

Today we laid to rest a hero. This hero did not wear turnouts. But none the less, he was an amazing public servant. Gone, but never forgotten.

UL/NIST blindness

This blog will be short… Very short.

Two main points here. If you are one of the folks out there who believes that the latest fire behavior/flow path info from NIST/UL is bad for the fire service then I challenge you to prove otherwise. It is potentially life saving so tune in instead of ignoring reality.

Second point… NIST/UL need to study fire behavior and flow path from the next room or the hallway. And include the impact of steam! The reality is offensive attacks need a place. So lets put together data on how the environment looks from a few rooms away or the hallway so we can begin to develop the clues or signals for firefighters that will save them and lives.

My  cents. Move along if you don’t like them. I hope to discuss this with Aaron Fields one of these days…Burned turnouts = empty turnouts. Stay safe.