The Campaign For DA

6.18.2018

As I Was Saying . . .

So what happened to me? Maybe a brush with death that was far too uncomfortable. Forget the "maybe," it was.

A few weeks back on Monday morning I was finishing up Random Thoughts when I suddenly, with little warning, felt a little sick. Thinking I couldn't make it to the bathroom, I grabbed my trashcan and threw up. What I saw perplexed me.

It was red. Blood red. I thought, "Did I drink tomato juice this morning?" "Did I eat somthing red? Nope. It looked like blood. Not vomit with a tad bit of redness but pure blood.

I had never had that happen to me before, and my reaction was that "This too shall pass." I was wrong. In about 45 minutes it hit again but this time I made it to the bathroom. Yep, it is blood. I told my one and only able assistant what had happened and she was concerned. "I'm fine," I said." I had a small district court docket at 9:00 a.m. and was not going to miss it. I told her, "I can go over there and fake it" in response to her suggestion I go home or to the doctor.

I went back to my desk and thirty minutes later it hit me again. Blood again.

I tell her I'm going home, and she scrambles to get everything reset.

I head out the door dressed in my typical white shirt and tie and it occurs to me that if I throw up while driving home my front windshield would look like the back windshield in Pulp Fiction after Travolta shoots Marvin in the face. I grab a cup for good measure and as a back up.

Halfway home the vomiting continues, and I fill up the cup. Now, a guy with half a brain would seek medical attention at this point but apparently I don't quality. I went home and went to bed believing this "had to stop" eventually -- bouts of vomiting always stop at some point, right? I made it maybe an hour when I threw up blood again. I texted Mrs. LL who told me in no uncertain terms to get down to, at the very least, the corner emergency room facility. She knew what was going on: I was suffering from internal bleeding. I told her I wanted to wait it out one more time.

I went maybe 30 minutes before it hit again. This time worse than ever.

I headed to the local corner ER.

Once there, they quickly put me on a bed, gave me a vomit bag, and I gave them an involuntary sample of vomit blood even though they didn't ask for it. The doctor was there quickly. Things changed dramatically for me at this point in terms of what I was dealing with.

The doctor, who was beyond firm in his delivery, said, "You have lost a lot of blood. You need blood, and we don't have blood here. We've got to get you to downtown Fort Worth."  I replied with some type of, "You sure it is this serious?" response. His retort was quick an resounding: "I have had more than one person die in front of my eyes after having gone what you have gone through. I'm calling an ambulance for transport."

I called Mrs. LL and she is there in minutes (she was already headed home to check on me.) I ask if she could take me to the downtown hospital and she replies for the medical staff, "No. They can monitor to you on the way there, idiot." (She didn't actually say "idiot" but she might as well have -- justifiably so.)  I'm loaded into the back of an ambulance (my first time ever) and a ton of wires are hooked up to me.

As we are moving at a pretty good clip down a large suburban street, the attendant in the back of the ambulance with me is looking at a monitor of my vitals intently. Very intently. I look over my left shoulder and see it, but I don't understand the numbers. About five minutes into the journey, his words terrify me.

He looks at the monitor and, without looking a me, tells the driver, "Jason, hit the lights!"

We are now running Code Three. Things have just gotten ramped up.

We headed into downtown Fort Worth, and I suddenly fear that construction and afternoon traffic will slow us down. We continue at break neck speed and then it dawns on me: The new toll road into Fort Worth has been completed.

We pull into Harris, and I'm rushed into the ER like you would see on TV. I've never seen so many medical professionals around me. At one point I pass out (they tell me for 45 seconds) as I simultaneously spewed blood. I'm feeling weak.

I've now got more needles stuck in me than I ever have in my life and they "stabilize" me as they run blood tests and quickly get ready to get new blood into me. Someone explains to me that I'll need a procedure -- a gastroenterologist will snake some device down my throat, find out where the bleeding is coming in, and patch it. (Extreme Side Note: Mrs. LL doesn't think a GI procedure where they repair bleeding constitutes a "surgery." That's why I'm referring to it as a "procedure.")

In addition to Mrs. LL, I had a couple of family members show up. While there, a nurse came in and said they were moving me to "Sub ICU". A family member, after she left, ask me what that was. My reply was, "I really don't know but it sounds like they are moving me to ICU but call it something different so I won't freak out."

I'll be honest, the next four or five days are a blur. They are big on drugs in that place. I have no memory of the surgery and very little of anything else.

But as the fog cleared, I had more than one doctor tell me I had been in a very dangerous position. The amount of blood loss almost got me.

And at the end, one had a suggestion that caught me off guard: If I could do it, take some time off and remove myself from anything and everything that causes me stress. I didn't like the idea, but the whole experience convinced me it couldn't hurt. Plus, if you've ever been in ICU for a few days, one thing is clear upon release: You can't walk for a handful of days. You are weak. And have your GI area operated on isn't exactly conducive to eating for a while.

So I did it. Mrs. LL helped me get back on my feet and then, after a few days, I had a variety of options and I used them. (A nice offer came from Mrs. LL's relatives in Arkansas who said I could house sit while they did summer traveling.)  But I was told to eliminate stress. I went completely off the grid. No blogging. No checking comments. No Twitter. No email. Heck, no Internet. The only thing I did was keep in contact with Mrs. LL and my office to make sure the world wasn't coming apart. I limited TV to fun stuff -- watching no more than 10 minutes of news every day.

It was frustrating at first but then became borderline glorious. I got to spend time reflecting on what happened and where do I want to go from here. Life is short. Shorter for some than others. I knew I almost fell into the "some" category.

But I'm back. However, I will change some things. Most are personal, but you'll see some of them on here. I'll get back to Random Thoughts tomorrow, but I'll probably turn off the comments. Having to check them throughout the day and read what is oftentimes the very worst from mankind it not the way I want to spend my days any longer. I don't know if I'll do any posts other than Random Thoughts with the exception of "It's Friday. Let's Get Out of Here!" which gives me great joy.

Side note: Thanks so much to the folks over at the courthouse for helping me out over the last few weeks. I'm eternally grateful that you came to my aide when I needed it. That doesn't happen in large counties. Instead of court staff screaming, "What do you mean he has to reschedule?!" I got a list of phone calls expressing concern.

One final note: Even though my cup did save me from vomiting blood all over the car, everything was not saved. A few drops of blood ruined a white shirt and my favorite purple tie was ruined -- a tie that I wore to two funerals last year which were very important to me. I may save it as a reminder. A reminder of a scary day, the delicate balance of life, and the words . . .

. . . "Jason, hit the lights!"