Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Have You Heard of "Splenic Lymphoma?

I was being the responsible, oldest son, making the trip to Sparks, Nevada to visit my father.  My mother passed away in April and my dad has been struggling the last few years with early Parkinson's and some dementia.

On my final day of the trip, my sides were very sore and I was sweating profusely.  Paramedics came and said it wasn't a heart problem, so we went to the emergency room, (which I just found out, didn't accept my insurance), to uncover the problem. After some tests, the emergency room doctor sounded like I was about to be released, but he said he showed some results to another doctor and I was getting a room.  

A real doctor, in scrubs and everything, came to my room and asked me if I was on blood thinners. Due to a bout of Afib in March, I was taking Xarelto.  He told me, that was the problem, that I had developed a contained hematoma on my spleen, full of blood from internal bleeding.  Doctor said my hemoglobin count had dropped to 9.3.  Normal for a man is 14.  They eventually stabilized my hemoglobin, but informed me I should not fly for 5 days.  My 3 day trip had now turned into a 9 day trip after my hospital stay.  

When getting home, I went to my family doctor, explained everything and he didn't think it was the Xarelto.  Back in March, my doctor had seen an increase in the size of my spleen, did a ct scan, and we decided to keep an eye on it for a few months.  In May, we had another ct scan and the spleen had shrunken a bit.  

My wife wasn't satisfied, so we went to a hematologist oncologist.  He agreed, after looking at test results and running blood tests, that it wasn't the Xarelto.  He scheduled me for a pet scan.  During this test, you fast for 12 hours before having radioactive glucose injected into your body.  The bad or weaker blood cells are the hungriest and go after the glucose.  When the doctor told me of my results, he said all the glucose headed for my spleen and it appeared I had lymphoma in my spleen.

Just a quick catch-up, my wife, Pat had ovarian cancer and it was almost exactly two years earlier. She has been in remission for nearly 18 months.  Thank God!  A two car family, a two house family, those are all cool.  A two cancer family...NOT COOL!

After a pity party for several hours, we marched onward.  I had to have a bone marrow biopsy to see if the lymphoma had traveled to my bone marrow.  Results were good!  From what I read, lymphoma that starts in the spleen spreads to your bone marrow.  Nothing in my bone marrow, blood, liver or kidney.  Seems like I have an "indolent", that means slow moving, and rare, form of cancer.  No less serious, but slow moving is good. 

I only have a few side effects from the illness.  I have a cough that I have had for months that apparently is from the spleen putting pressure on my diaphragm. I also have lost 16 pounds, but not how you want to.  Spleen also putting pressure on my stomach not allowing me to eat as much.  Worst side effect, drenching night sweats! Imagine you get out of the shower, don't towel off, and get under the covers...that's what I have been dealing with for the past month. 

So the next step is a splenectomy where a surgeon goes in and removes my spleen.  I had to have several vaccinations, because, even at my advanced age, the spleen still does some things to protect my blood and body.  

My surgery is coming up and means three to ten days in the hospital and likely four weeks of recovery.  After surgery, a pathologist will look at the spleen and we hope most, if not all of the lymphoma is contained within. 

First things first!  Surgery, here we come.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Brews & Balls! What Else is There?

Beer and Sports!  It goes together like peanut butter and jelly, Starsky & Hutch, Laurel & Hardy, Batman and Robin...just to name a few pairings.

Over the last several years, I have been exposed to so many different varieties of craft beer brewed in the Chicagoland area, and it has now become, according to my wife, Pat, an obsession!  She is always saying,"Can't you talk about anything besides craft beer?"  After I pause for a few moments, sports come to mind, but I know that is not the answer she was looking for.

She was hoping I wanted to talk finances or home repair.  Shopping or...more shopping.  Nope!  My expertise don't run very deep.  If it's not beer, or sports, it's likely classic rock from the 70's and early 80's.  I DID get a chance to see guitar genius, Jeff Beck for the first time last week at the Chicago Theater.  First time I have ssen him.  Purchased his Blow by Blow album back when it came out in the 70's and have been a huge fan ever since.

Due to the fact that I have grown increasingly "obsessed" with craft beer, and I have NO desire to brew my own, I figured talking and writing about the people, the brewers, the representatives of the local breweries, was a fun thing for me to do, and maybe something I could pass on to others.

Other people like beer! I attended the Sunday Funday event at the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse last week and just a few days ago, had 21 different samples of craft beer at the closing event for Chicago Craft Beer Week 2015 at Welles Park in the city.  I did think I only had 19 different beers, until I began going over the list and remembered several more!

I thought, along with reading about my experiences, maybe people would like to listen to me talk about beer and sports, so I started Brews and Balls!  It's a podcast, that right now, can be found on Soundcloud.com.

Give it a listen.  More to come both there, and here on Blogspot!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

"I Couldn't Care Less"

Covering sports and talking about it on the radio was always a dream of mine.  I was fortunate enough to achieve that dream and have been doing it for the past twenty some years!

The games on the field, the strategies used by managers and coaches.  These are the things I love discussing.  How a GM builds a team.  How a manager handles a bullpen or a pitching staff, (really, in my mind, the only thing that makes them important at all!). Why veteran players still don't seem to understand the fundamentals of the game they are paid quite well to play.  How a basketball coach can overcome an injury to a key player and beat a superior squad.

Unfortunately, over time, I have been forced to discuss salaries, steroids, court cases, murder trials, how sports should deal with national tragedy, teams spying on each other, and now, how air pressure was "allegedly" taken out of footballs.

I have heard the reports of how a football is easier to grip by the QB and thus, probably easier for the receivers to catch.  I DON'T CARE!  The QB, Tom Brady, in this case, must still throw the ball, to the proper point where his receivers can catch it.  He must throw it out of the reach of defenders.  He did all this, no matter how much air was or wasn't in the football.

The national obsession with "Deflate-gate" is beyond ridiculous!  Numerous listeners have requested I please don't talk about it on the shows I hosted this past weekend.  Unfortunately, the passing of a baseball great, Ernie Banks, took care of that for me.

Mr. Cub was one-of-a-kind!  He dealt with discrimination coming up through the Negro League and finally made it to the Chicago Cubs in 1953, where he stayed until he retired on the field in 1971. He belted 512 home runs, was an All Star 14 times, and won the MVP award in back-to-back seasons, 1958 and 1959.  He coached with the Cubs for a couple of years to follow, and has always been a true ambassador of the game, and his beloved Cubs!

No one had a bad word to say about this man, who only wanted his Cubs to win!  It never happened. Now that he is gone, his favorite club appears to be close to putting together an organization that can make things happen at Clark and Addison.

There will be many tributes to the great Mr. Banks throughout the 2015 season.  Hopefully not just from the Cubs, but also from Major League Baseball itself.

These I WILL care about and look forward discussing whenever I get the chance behind the microphone!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Baseball Should Be Fun in Town!

It doesn't happen often that both sides of town can go into a baseball season excited about their teams...but this looks like it could one of those years!

After three seasons of enduring miserable baseball on the North side, Joe Maddon's arrival as manager of the Cubs has the faithful excited. And for good reason. It has been difficult watching a team that wasn't prepared to win, or even challenge in the NL Central.

The signing of Jon Lester shows the Cubs have progressed to that next step.  When Kris Bryant arrives, likely in May, to go along with Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Soler, Alcantara and a very good starting rotation, the fans at New Wrigley Field should have plenty of things to cheer for.

On the South Side, Rick Hahn has been slowly building a contender and adding Jeff Samardzija, Adam Laroche and Melky Cabrera should make the White Sox a threat in the AL Central. Now if John Danks can actually have a good season, the rebuilt bullpen could make for a lot of fun nights at the Cell! The Sox fans have a youngster to wait on themselves with last years top pick, left handed pitcher, Carlos Rodon.

The Bears are trying to figure it out, the Bulls and Blackhawks look ready for deep playoff runs. How much fun would a couple of competing baseball teams in town be? We can always hope!

Now for the Chicago Fire fans in town...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

And Another Year Begins!

2014 wasn't great!

When the doctor tells you your wife has cancer, all other things you thought were important take a distant back seat. Pat is doing well with just a couple treatments remaining.  All thoughts and prayers are most appreciated. She has shown me what strength and courage really mean and I look forward to many healthy years to come.

As for me, things pretty much remained the same. Grabbing shifts and continuing my "Dream Job" of radio at ESPN 1000. Sports never stays the same and you can never predict what is coming next.  Hopefully, good things are ahead for me, as well as sports in Chicago in 2015.

I was fortunate enough to get back involved with the Chicago Fire Soccer team.  Working with Kevin Egan and Jeff Crandall on a weekly basis on Chicago Fire Weekly was a joy.  Jeff is a true professional and the passion Kevin brings to everything he does is infectious.

I have also had the opportunity to teach students what I know about the crazy business of radio at the Illinois Center of Broadcasting. It's great to help people who want to learn and improve themselves.

As for family, my father has been in declining health since he turned 80. Worse than that is he is far away from us living just outside of Sacramento. It's difficult him being so far away. Phone calls can't make up for not having your father nearby where you can stop by whenever you just need to see him. My mother is doing well and that is a true blessing.  Don't take your parents for granted.  They won't always be there for you!  Take advantage of all the time you have together.

Several years ago, my good friend, Sam DeSio passed away at the ridiculously young age of 49. Since then, my group of buddies has a standing breakfast once a month at the same restaurant. Sometimes eight of us show up, sometimes as few as two.  You never know how long the friends you have had will be around.  Cherish each and every chance you have to be with them and don't be too manly to tell them you love them! Us guys seem to have a problem with that.

Looking back at what I have wrote, it seems pretty depressing, but it all comes as ways to look forward to making 2015 a happier and better year for us all.

I have said this before, but I plan on making this, at least, a weekly blog.  Who know how quickly people will get tired of reading it, but for me it will be a great way to get things off my chest and express some of the good, bad, strange, unique, entertaining things I have rattling around this 7 5/8ths cranium of mine.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why Can't We?

There are so many things that go on in the world, and especially in sports, that should be changed...and here are just a few of the ones that REALLY get me going.

The NFL has used instant replay for years.  The NBA uses it a bit.  The NHL actually uses it best.  Now Major League Baseball has begun a season where instant replay is used to correct many of the calls made by umpires.  They ALL get it wrong.

For years, I have mentioned on the radio, and to anyone that would listen, that if you, and me and the rest of the fans watching at home can determine the correct call after one or two views of a replay, (in under twenty seconds), why can't the league do it?  If each league put an extra official, the 5th umpire, an extra referee, in the press box of every game, watching a 40 inch high definition television, like a lot of us fans do, they could fix incorrect calls with almost no delay in games.  When the ump or official sees an incorrect call, he contacts the official on the field and the call gets changed.  For some reason they won't do it...and so we suffer through three, four and five minute reviews.

Also in baseball, why does a reliever, who just threw numerous pitches to warm up in the bullpen, need to throw eight more when he comes into the game?  The mound can't be that different!  Okay, give them one or two, but really, what's the point?

Why do the Cubs still start their games at 1:20 pm?  I understand years ago, they had a twenty minute lead-off man, but that's not the case anymore.

Protecting football players is a great thing to do, but making the kickoff a near non-factor has ruined one of the most exciting plays in the game.

If I hear one more person say the Bulls were "tired" or "exhausted", I'm going to lose it.  A basketball game is 48 minutes and it takes two and a half hours to play.  There are SO many time outs and stoppages of the clock for fouls, free throws, TV breaks, etc., that if 25 to 30 year old players can't get their rest during the game, than something is wrong.

What is wrong with a tie?  The NHL uses a five minute overtime, where teams rarely attempt to score, and then a shootout to determine games during the regular season.  Why not a five minute overtime and then if no one scores, it is a tie?  Each team gets a point.    It would make the five minute OT much more competitive.  Also, teams should get three points for a win.  It would make them more valuable than just two.

Why must we listen to Network announcers in all sports?  If we are watching the Hawks and the Wild, why can't we go to the SAP button on our televisions and hear Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk?  If we are watching the Bears and Packers, Green Bay Fans should be able to hear Wayne Larivee and we should hit a button and hear Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer.  And in the World Series, the next time a Chicago team makes it, wouldn't it be more fun listening to Hawk and Stoney, or Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies than Joe Buck and anyone one else?

Oh, I have more for next time!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What Has Happened to Watching the EPL?

For the longest time, if you wanted to view the best soccer league in the world, you would have to wake up early on Saturday or Sunday mornings, travel into the city and find a pub that was picking up the feed of the English Premier League games.  It wasn't always the team you were a fan of, but it was EPL soccer and you were desperate to watch.

As of last week, you can now see every game from the Barclay's Premier League on your television at home.  NBC Sports Network began it's coverage of the BPL with games on their main channel, a game on NBC Channel 5, as well as the remaining games on separate channels on DirecTV and other providers.

There was always something special about waiting for a bar like Sedgwick's to open so that we could get inside and watch the sport that we were unable to see anywhere else.  Sometimes the person in charge of opening for that day was the same person that closed the bar just hours before.  Numerous times, the kitchen didn't have your food ready until the second half, but that was all part of the adventure.

The camaraderie of watching a game with people you didn't know, everyone wearing jerseys of their favorite squads, no matter if they were playing or not. Getting the nod from someone walking by your table because you wore the jersey from their favorite team.

And once the games ended, you had to push past the throngs of people coming into the bar for a full day of college or NFL games.

Now, with more and more sports and beer establishments around, they are showing the games on the weekends, but there isn't the need to leave the comfort of your home to see, not only a big game, but the team you pull for, on a weekly basis.

Will America watch enough of the games so that the coverage will continue?  Is Soccer finally getting big here in the US?  Are the naysayers finally learning to watch, or is it the youngsters that have grown up and enjoy watching the game?

Manchester United, the defending Champs play Jose Mourinho's Chelsea squad next Monday.  Think I need to find a place to watch this one with a group of soccer fans instead of the solitude of my basement.  Anyone interested in getting together?