I received a text today from a lawyer I coached,. He asked how I was doing. It is a very long story, and in journalism there is a rule that I suggested for blogging: “Don’t bury the lead.” So I won’t.
I had surgery in February to remove cancer from my neck. After surgery I had chemo and radiation with all the expected side effects. By July I thought I was recovering. But, I had pain in the other side of my neck with it shooting down my right arm. I had surgery in Cabo and almost died from pneumonia afterwards. As a result we sold our home in Cabo and we are building a home in Fort Worth.
Here are the details of my story.
Many people I know have been through far greater challenges than me, and haven’t shared their stories. In that way I feel selfish sharing mine. I believe I share not to help lawyers I coached and lawyers who read my blog over 15 years. Instead, at this point I feel like I share my 2022 for those lawyers to help me by understanding my angst and just by saying hello. (I no longer use my business email as I have retired.)
After radiation and chemo I had more side effects than anticipated. I recovered from those, was cancer free, and moved to our new home at Diamanté Cabo San Lucas. In July I had severe pain in my neck. Nancy took me to a Cabo hospital where I was given pain medicine such that Nancy was afraid to put me on an airplane to return to Texas. She rightly thought I would create a ruckus and we would be on the no fly list for the rest of our lives.
A Cabo surgeon removed and replaced three discs. Before the surgery, I wrote a text that I don’t remember writing. I asked in the text why I was spending a second night in the hospital.
After surgery I got bacterial pneumonia and almost died. I was on a ventilator for five days. My first memory was our daughter Jill holding my hand. I spent 18 days on my back in the hospital, eating baby food and having more medicine and shots than I can ever remember. I lost 40 pounds. I was an extremely unpleasant patient. I cussed and made an American gesture at the doctor. I was delirious and had the most crazy thoughts you could ever imagine. I don’t even want to share them, so please just think of the worst thoughts possible. None of my thoughts were favorable towards anyone working at the hospital.
I didn’t realize what it was like for our daughter Jill, who had come from Arlington, and especially Nancy. She had spent the entire 2022 caring for me, driving me to doctors, helping me get up in the middle of the night, and worrying about whether I would survive.
I was brought home in Cabo in an ambulance and brought in our casita in a wheel chair. I fell trying to lie down. I spent the following weeks trying to walk, reading many inspiring notes Jill had written to share her love, and sorting through what was real during my hospital visit and what was not. It was a mental struggle. Not wanting the trauma or cost of another health incident in Cabo, we sold our Casita in one day and we will be back in Arlington, Texas November 30.
Throughout my life, I have been inspired by words. This is especially the case when times have been tough for me, like they have been this year. When I was down I needed to hear someone essentially tell me to get up and work harder to get better. At 75, I was challenged.
Graduation speeches are purposely designed to inspire the graduates to go out and change the world. One graduation speech that inspired me was Steve Jobs graduation speech at Stanford in 2005. I have likely included the YouTube video of it in a past blog post and if you haven’t watched it, I encourage you to do so. If you don’t have time, this Forbes article gives you the highlights.
There is a second graduation speech I strongly recommend you watch. It is Admiral McRaven at a University of Texas graduation. He was the Chancellor of University of Texas before stepping down because of health issues. Read about him here. But, please take time to watch and listen to what he told graduating students. I like this YouTube version of it.
These two gentlemen inspire me to make myself better each and every day. I am walking sometimes as much as a mile. I still struggle because the surgery to replace my discs paralyzed my vocal cord on the right side, meaning it never touches the left vocal cord, meaning my voice is a mess, I sometimes can’t swallow. my mouth is dry, and I get out of breath easily. This article describes my situation. Down the road they can do something to help my situation.
Like I said we are here at Diamante until the end of November. I am able to play golf from the most forward tees. In many ways we are sad to be leaving our dream retirement home. It was wonderful for the few months we were here, but, more important than our beautiful home, we will always remember the people who work here.
There are too many incredibly nice people to name, and I would for sure miss one or more. Let me say the guys and gals who work at the front gate greet us by name and chat with us. The caddies, especially Javier who has worked with us for many years, make our golf experience unique and special. The gals who work at the comfort stations greet us and take care of us. The guys and gals who work at the Diamante restaurants take great care of us. The valets who park our car greet us, smile and take care of us. The incredible gals who work in the two pro shops have for twelve years helped us and our guests with tee times. The golf pros and assistant pros we have known over the years have embraced us, taught us, and worked us in on busy days. Each Diamante staff person we met over the twelve years called us by name and made us feel part of their family. They never expected anything back from us other than a smile of appreciation. Nancy and I will be forever grateful for their kindness.
So, we are setting out on a new adventure. We are building a home in Fort Worth. It is minutes from my many doctors, downtown Fort Worth and The Retreat Golf Resort where we play golf. I keep saying to you that this is my last blog post, and maybe this time I may be telling the truth. I am at a point when I am not sure I have anything to say that will help you enjoy your career, but I will leave you with one thought from my experience.
I spent 74 years thinking I could conquer the world, thinking nothing could stop me. I fell along the way, I disappointed myself, but I always got up. This year 2022, I felt for the first time the world had conquered me. There has not been one normal day in 2022. I have not been in control. I have given it over to doctors, nurses and caregivers. I never once from 1947 to 2021 thought I could get cancer. That is what happened to other people. Even after Nancy and I moved into our home in Cabo, I never one time thought I would have emergency surgery in Cabo and almost die. I share this with you simply to say the most unexpected things can happen and change your life forever.
I appreciate each and every one of you I have coached, taught or mentored and those of you who read my blog.