Friday, April 25, 2008


The doctor called.

Wednesday night, 23 April. I was at work and I called home on my lunch break. She said the doctor called at seven o'clock. The doctor said the Sentinel Node Biopsy results came back positive. the doctor said he was very surprised. The doctor said that nothing indicates an invasive cancer, except the Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy. The doctor said they found a tumor inside the Sentinel Node. The doctor said this will add an hour or more to her upcoming scheduled surgery. The doctor said she will need Chemotherapy.

She was shocked. She cried. Chemo scares her more than the cancer itself. She saw what it did to her father. She did not cry when she was on the phone with me. She asked me if I was okay. I lied and said I was.

I was still on my lunch break so I went outside off The Dock and sat in my old Jeep. I put the radio on and listened to some jazz on 90.5 DUQ Pittsburgh. The music came through the two good speakers that still work in that good old Jeep. I drank a cold can of Pepsi and smoked a couple cigarettes.

The doctors all said that hers was a case of very early detection. The doctors all said that it was so wonderful, they were going to be able to treat her without Chemotherapy. The doctors all said. The doctors should know, they are all very good doctors and experts in their chosen fields. The doctors all work at The Hillman Cancer Center, and the big UPMC hospitals down in Pittsburgh. The doctors all said. The doctors were wrong and they don't know why.

My wife is no longer a very lucky woman who was diagnosed with stage zero D.C.I.S.. My wife is now a woman who has cancer that has spread and the doctors don't know why. She is a stage two or three at this point. We will find out more on Monday.

Last night we sat and talked when I got home from work at around one in the morning. We each had a beer. That is unusual for us, to have a beer during the work week. She wanted to say some things. She wanted to talk about what would happen if she doesn't make it. I did not want to talk about that. It was not up to me. She made me promise that I would be there for the girls. Of course I will. She made me promise that I would move on with my life so that they would move on as well. I told her that the older baby girl is going away to college in the fall like she planned. I told her that I would sell the house and quit my job if I had to. I told her I could rent something and live off my cop pension and be home for the younger baby girl. You can still do that around here. You can rent something affordable if you have to. The Greed Monger Yuppie Scum From Hell have not ruined this Blue Collar Paradise, yet.

Her mind is spinning. I guess it would. Her thoughts are all over the place. She is going to teach me her book keeping methods, and how she pays the bills. I'm going to have to take that over, for now at least. She has a long road ahead of her. Recovering from surgery, then the Chemotherapy that will kill her as it cures her. I am going to have to step up to the plate like I never have before. I am going to have to be as strong as she is. Real strength, not just my stupid guy kind of strength. I can't ride a Harley and make this all better, if I still had a Harley. I can't jump out of a perfectly good aircraft and fix this. There is nothing in my toolbox that will help. I have to be like her. I have to face this honestly.

I want to say the moon was out. I don't remember if it was. I want to say I saw a sign. I don't remember if I did. I want to say my prayers are being answered. I don't know if they are.

Hey Tommy. The calender hanging on the kitchen wall here in this drafty old house says today is Good Friday............Pretty funny, huh bro?...........

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I can't believe this. I wrote this killer post and blogger was "unable to complete this request" when I hit the "publish" button. My killer post is gone. It's lost, adrift in cyberspace. I will miss that post. It was really very funny. It was the funniest thing ever written in the entire history of the world. Of course you can't deny that it was because it's gone now. You will just have to take my word for it.

Senator Clinton woke me this morning. I have decided to vote for Senator Obama because he never woke me up on a Saturday morning after I worked all week second shift plus overtime.

I hate this whole primary thing.

Hey Tommy. If you happen to see my killer post out there somewhere, send it back to me before it gets lonely and scared.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


So I'm sitting here at UPMC Shadyside. My wife is in surgery. Not the big surgery. The Sentinel Node Biopsy. Sometimes called the Mother Node, it is located by injecting a dye into the bloodstream. If cancer is present in the Mother Node, that's bad. If cancer is not detected in the Mother Node, that's very good.

I'm in the Family Lounge in Posner Tower at Shadyside. They have two computers here for our use. I have a flashing pager, the kind they use at restaurants. The pager will activate when it's time for me to report to the desk. They paged me earlier, just before they wheeled her away. I gave her a kiss and I tasted like coffee. She was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight. I kind of felt bad because she really loves coffee. She said it was the best kiss ever. I'm thinking about finding me some coffee flavored toothpaste.

I worked down on The dock 'til 0030 last night. I slept from 0100 'til 0300. We left at 0430 and arrived here in Pittsburgh at 0602. Good time. Very little traffic.

I'm numb at this point. Driving on impulse power. It's all good.

Hey Tommy. Who is the real Shady?

Saturday, April 12, 2008


So I had to work last night. We start at three instead of four on Friday. My wife had an appointment down at Hillman at eleven in the morning. She took the girls with her. She let the younger baby girl skip school. The other doctor's office called on Thursday and asked if she could stop in there at noon. The other doctor is the plastic surgeon who will do the reconstruction. The folks at Hillman had to do the required monthly blood work, E.K.G. and chest x-ray. She had the blood drawn, then drove down the block to the plastic surgeon's office, then drove back to Hillman for the rest. Her oncologist/surgeon who is in charge of The Team spoke to her briefly. It was good that the girls went with her. They now have a better understanding of what is going on.

Everything is moving very fast now. It looks like the first of May is the date for her surgery. Kind of strange. May Day, the distress call. She is sleeping right now. She is exhausted. Stress will do that to a person. They sat in Friday afternoon Pittsburgh traffic on their way back home yesterday. She said the traffic was bumper to bumper from the Highland Park Bridge all the way to The Mills. Construction. I shot home from The Dock at my seven-thirty lunch break to let The Dogs out. They pulled up five minutes later. A very long day for the ladies in this house.

I'm going to eat something now. I'm thinking about what I will have. These are important decisions. I'm glad we have options. I actually complained the other day. I complained about the fridge being so full that I couldn't find what I was looking for. I immediately realized how stupid that was. Well, like my grandfather always said.

"No sense bein' stupid unless you show it now and then".

I made that up. As far as I know my grandfather never actually said that. It sounds like something a grandfather would say. I'm going to go eat now. I'll be back.

That was good. She makes this dish, it's a recipe she got from Southern Living magazine years ago. It's pretty simple, but oh so good. Ground beef with chopped onions and all kinds of good seasoning with a crust made out of crescent roll dough. You lay the dough in a 8 1/2 x 11 glass tray/pan thing and fill it up. Then, you criss cross the rest of the dough on top and bake it. It's best served with sour cream on top. I like to put some hot sauce on the sour cream. I had a large serving of her home made pasta salad with it. I sat on the living room floor with my back up against the couch and ate while watching some of a John Wayne movie on one of the cable channels. I think it was on AMC. I really like John Wayne movies. I put my plate on the sink. I stepped out back and hung a smoke.

She has been cooking a lot this past week since she's been home again. She made her world famous lasagna. She made this ham and rice dish that we all love so much. We made chili together last weekend. And of course she made the recently consumed, aforementioned meat pie and pasta salad.

It's good to see her feeling a little better. Not having to drag herself in to the powdered metal factory every night at midnight is starting to show. Her hands are cleaner. The powdered metal dust is washing away a little at a time, no longer being replaced each night. Her sleep patterns are improving as well. The one down side is that now she has more time to think. It's almost easier to deal, or not deal, with problems when you are busy and tired all the time. It's good that she's thinking about, and absorbing all of this cancer stuff. It's good but it's not easy.

My friend Beetus, I wrote a post about him some time back. Well Beetus called last night and told me that he had this feeling. Beetus said that I have to buy a Powerball ticket today. He said I have to buy it but my wife has to pick the numbers. It's unusual for Beetus to say such a thing. I went out and got the card that you use for picking the numbers. When she wakes up I'll have her fill it out. I'll take it down to the corner gas station/convenience store and buy the ticket. You never know.

Hey Tommy. I was thinkin' 'bout you this morning bro.........Yeah, you know the deal......Well bro, I got to go for now. I have to listen to Elvis and get some work done on this hallway that we've been working on here in this drafty old house........Maggie was her name Tommy. My grandmother's name was Maggie. I wrote a post about her too. It was like a year ago, maybe longer........Yeah Tommy. Later.

"I'm gonna stick like glue........because I'm, stuck on you....."

That's the one I sing to my wife.

Monday, April 07, 2008

"The Changeling"

One of my favorite Doors songs. Anyway, lots-o-changes here. Last Thursday I went over to The Dock around 1030 hours. I asked to see the Big Boss. It's a family owned and operated business. The Big Boss is the eldest son who, along with his brother and cousin, run the whole show.

I had spoken to him about six weeks ago. I spoke to him about a full time position. He told me to wait a couple months. He said a customer owed him a lot of money, and the contract was open. He said that the Dock Supervisor and my Shift Foreman both want me on full time. He said he wants me on full time too, just not yet. I smiled and thanked him. I reminded him that I was an ex-cop from Jersey. I told him maybe I know some guys. Maybe we could collect that debt for him. He laughed, thank God he laughed. Sometimes people don't get me, humor and like that.

Yeah, so I go see him on Thursday. He calls the Dock Supervisor in his office and we talk. He is very nice and I like him. He said he would have an answer for me within two weeks, one way or the other. See it's like this. One of the company trailer drivers just quit, went to work for a drilling rig outfit. I know that they need that slot filled and I have a class A c.d.l....I can drive a trailor.

So I come back home and the phone rings about ten mintutes after I walk in the door. It's the Dock Supervisor. He said I start full time on Monday, that's today. That means an immediate increase of four dollars and thirty-five cents per hour with two more increases at six month intervals of seventy-five cents an hour each. It also means paid holidays, five paid sick days, one personal day and a week's vacation. Two weeks after three years. I will also get my birthday off with pay, and I will be in the Teamster's Pension fund. Not bad. Oh yeah, since I don't need the insurance because I have insurance through my cop pension, I will get a little extra in each check for that as well. This is very good news. To land this job at my age, in this economy, it's very good news indeed.

The best part is this. My wife was able to take leave from her job at the powdered metal factory. She can schedule her needed surgery and not have to worry about rushing back to work. She can take the time she needs to beat this friggin' cancer. She can be home more with The Girls and The Dogs and The Parrot and The Love Bird. She can get well.

Yeah. Last Thursday was a real good day. Life is looking up. I love my wife.

"I live.......uptown.........I live..........downtown........I live.......all around"