Christmas '16, Part 2

I turned this one around quick for you- it’s amazing what you can get accomplished on a nine-hour flight. Speaking of flights, it was all Air France on the way home today. I have to give them mixed reviews, but since they’re partners with Delta they match my Platinum status and that goes a long way. And speaking of Delta, I’ve softened up on them after flying other airlines so I’m at peace on that front. Let me not get ahead of myself though, I’ve forgotten to tell you about the other half of the journey…

When we left off, I was catching a 4:30 am car to FCO. Destination: Athens (Greece, not Georgia). After a couple of uneventful flights connecting CDG, I landed at ATH. A thirty-minute train ride away and I as delivered to the doorstep of my hotel on Monastraki square. After a much-needed nap, I was up to up for exploring the city. By this time it was dark out and my first impressions of the city were to be at night. Despite being in one of the more happening districts in the city, it was a damp and chilly Monday night so I figured it would be a fairly subdued scene. It turns out that the Athenians like to go out, every night. The city was heaving with people of all ages, but there was a prominent cohort of stylish, youngish folks. The streets were lined with busy retail and restaurants spots from the modest to the upscale. There was an element of “urban grit”, but my first impression was that this was as healthy and urbane as most cities in Europe. I grabbed a gyro from a street vendor (cliché, I know), caught some BBC World on the tele and passed out for the night.

The Lion's Gate- the only way in or out.

It was another early morning to catch my ride out to the Peloponnese for a day trip to see the couple of ancient sites. These places have held my imagination since I took the Introduction to Architecture course with Christopher Mead in New Mexico 25 years ago. Mycenae was the capitol of the civilization that was the progenitor of the ancient Greeks  and the Theater of Epidaurus was a center of healing and performing arts dating from the 15th century BC. I’ll spare you a history lesson, but they’re fascinating places if you’re into such things.

The Treasury of Atreus or the Tomb of Agamemnon...or neither.

We got home at a reasonable hour and I had another night out on the town, This time I traveled off the beaten path and found the part of Athens that was more in line with my expectations of what I would find in a country that’s undergone everything Greece has in the last ten years or so. Shuttered shops for lease, half-completed building that have obviously laid fallow for quite some time, and low-level retail focused on low-level tourists. The more I paid attention, I also found that even in the nicer streets in the city, very every inch of vertical surface in Athens was covered in graffiti. I’m not talking about the fake-urban artsy graffiti we encourage in Chattanooga to make us look edgy, I’m talking about crappy tags and poorly done wastes of paint. I suspect the amount of money they spent on spray paint is what plunged them into economic chaos and default. It was an eye-opening evening, but it didn’t necessarily change my opinion of the city as decent place- it just gave me another perspective.

It's no Bryant-Denny, but the view ain't bad.

I woke up early once again the next day, but this time with good reason. I was going to see one of the most iconic sets of buildings in the world. It’s one of the few sites in the world, where the buildings transcend mere architecture and become symbols of something much larger. In this case, the ideals of individual freedom and democracy are embodied in ancient Greece and in the Acropolis. The site itself has been undergoing perpetual reconstruction, so I was prepared for the machinery and scaffolding. The big daddy of them all, the Parthenon was about what I expected, so there were no surprises. What I was surprised by, was how relatively small a couple of my favorite other buildings were. The Temple of Athena Nike is quite small, but so very tidy in proportion and scale. It is truly a gem. The Erectheon was a bit more baffling in person. The Caryatid columns were only about a third of the size that I imagined they would be. The columns on the eastern side of the building were taller and more slender and attenuated than I anticipated- but that’s the hallmark of the Corinthian order, so I’m sure why I’m surprised. While that building caught me off guard, the rest was pretty much in line with expectations- which I must admit were sky high. My only regret is that the top of the hill was windy and freaking cold. The rest of the day was spent walking around aimlessly, nibbling on street food from time to time and taking the train to get some brief glances of some of the other neighborhoods.With that the trip was essentially over, save for another early morning and the flight back (which is where I write from today). I may sleep for three days when I get back to the Scenic City, so you may not see me for a while.

The granddaddy of them all...and the Parthenon.

With the trip in the books, here are some general observations on the whole Christmas Vacation:

-Rome just wasn’t the same this time around. Maybe it was because the food sucked; maybe it was because the people weren’t quite as nice as I usually find them to be. 

-Athens met or exceeded expectations. I did not hold out high hopes for food, and they met that expectation. The people were quite friendly. The amount of graffiti while cute at first became disturbing the more I paid attention to how much of it there actually is. 

-I was two of three on hotel selection. The place I stayed by myself for one night sucked- and I shared my opinions. The other two places exceed expectations- especially our place in Rome, has found a place on my top five list of accommodations.

-The amount of tour and ticket hustlers outside of the Vatican is impressive and annoying.

-If you can’t properly prepare spaghetti Carbonara, you should not be allowed to live in Rome. 

-Delta and KLM stayed on my good side this trip- primarily because most of my flights were on Air France.

-There is no place like home for the Holidays.
-I’m sure there are more, but it’s been a long journey and I’m worn all the way out.

The Caryatids- they got a bum deal.

Let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas. You have all of my best wishes and love.

The Stoa of Attalos. We actually had one in Chattanooga.
If you squint, you can see Community Pie at the end.
I haven’t really talked about health in my two-blog description of the journey. Perhaps that’s because (with the exception of our day in Florence) it’s not affected my daily activities. I am, however, having a tough time with fluid retention and swelling in my abdomen and legs. The problem is that this puts pressure on my stomach, limiting what I can consume. After already losing 30% of my body weight, this is a big deal. It’s tough to say how much I “really” weigh because much of what the scale reads is fluid that has to go. Looking in the mirror, however, I can see that I’m not in good shape. I am worried about this.

As for the tumor, it’s still sitting in the background waiting to do its thing. As of last scan (three weeks ago?), it was stable in size and not really doing anything. As for the absecess and infections, I finished my last dose of antibiotics during the trip and it appears that I have them beat. 

I suppose it’s good news/bad news in the health front. During my last few days alone, however, thoughts death and dying keep popping up in my head. Am I ready or not? Am I traveling to run from it? Would I even care if it weren’t for D and the boys? Will I be able to do it on my terms (outside of a hospital bed)? I’ve turned those over more than a few times. (For the record, the answers are: Yes. I don’t think so. No. God, I hope so.)


Christmas '16

Mere weeks after swearing off both Delta and Europe I’m back in the saddle. So far, both of my flights have been delayed, but not by much. I haven’t missed any connections, and I haven’t had to deal with any customer “service” agents- no complaints. You may recall that last year I took the family to NYC for Christmas. That was a great trip and it’s hard to find fault with it, but I think all of us felt a bit let down by not being at home for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. This year, we learned from our experience and decided to travel just before the holiday to return in time to enjoy being in Chattanooga- sleeping in our own beds, and walking downstairs to Christmas morning.

Destination: Rome. Yes, I decided to go back to Rome…again. While, part of me was keen to pick a city I haven’t been too before so I can continue to check buildings off of the architecture bucket list, I had a more compelling reason to return to the Eternal City. After the last time I visited, I told the big one that I would take him there some day. I never forgot that pledge, and Lord knows the boy has a memory for such things. One of my deepest fears was that I would die before I could make good on my promise, and that for the rest of his life he would be haunted by a trip we never got to take. It was in my power to prevent that, so, Rome it is. I was set to arrive at our destination a day before the family joined me, and while we fly out on the same day, they headed directly home while I took a brief detour.

Bramante's jewel. Worth risking he hospital for.

After landing I hopped on the train at FCO and hopped off at the Trastevere station. The original plan was to avoid any unnecessary walking to preserve my energy, but rather than take the tram to get closer to the hotel, I decided to get out and walk the rest of the way…then I decided to take on the massive hill that leads to San Pietro in Montorio. I almost died, and I had been in town for less than 2 hours. My reward was a one on one session with the Tempietto. Not a tourist or worshiper to be found, just me and Bramante’s jewel- it was a special time for me (especially considering that the other times I’ve been here, the gates to the inner courtyard were locked). After fawning, I schlepped two more kilometers to my hotel, where I had a nap before hitting the town for a totally forgettable dinner (more about that later).

Whew! The Pantheon has managed to remain
"as is" for almost 2,000 years. It also managed
to survive the C.Rushing progeny this year.

The next day the family arrived and I checked us in to a new hotel. I booked with rewards points, and it turned out that we got upgraded to a killer space in a fourteenth century building that has been owned continuously by the proprietor’s family. It just so happens that he is an architect- and I suspect a good one, given the quality of redesign of the interior we were in (which was almost as big as my house). While waiting for the room to be readied, we dropped our bags with reception and headed for a quick roll through the Parthenon and Piazza Navona before heading west. We took on the Vatican Museum, (which the boys seemed to enjoy), St. Peter’s Square, where I introduced them to the rivalry between Bernini and Borromini (which the boys could not care less about), and St. Peter’s Basilica, which was breathtaking for everyone (even those of us who have already experienced it). My wife, God bless her, acquiesced to the boy’s pleading to climb Michelangelo’s dome. To my shame, I stayed below and accidentally fell asleep in a pew in one of the side chapels. Afterwards, we limped our way home (we should’ve taken a cab). After fawning over the rooms and unpacking, we headed off for dinner– another unspectacular, if not downright poor, dinner (at least for me). The exhausted Rushing crew capped off the day with a gelato and an early bed.

Think they were impressed that Michelangelo designed
the Swiss Guard uniforms? (I was too heartbroken and
crestfallen to tell them that this is actually a myth.)

We all had problems with the time change and had a hell of a time getting out of bed the next day. This was exacerbated by the fact that I booked a 6:30 departure on a train headed for Florence. We managed to make it, but Dad was seriously hurting. I managed to miss taking some medicine and as a consequence was extremely unwell. We managed to make our way through the Uffizi and take the short walk to Piazza del Duomo. We started with the baptistery. I tried to interest the boys in the Brunelleschi v. Ghiberti rivalry and got a slightly better response than Bernini v. Borromini. We then popped into Santa Maria del Fiori to see Brunelleschi’s dome. It is truly amazing. But that was all I had in me. It’s a shame that we got all the way to Florence, and didn’t take advantage of everything the city had to offer, but I was simply in no condition to continue. So, it was back to the train, back to Rome, and back to sleep. I woke in time to take the boys to see the standards- Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza della Rotonda, before sitting down for another awful dinner (see the pattern here?)

With the Arch of Septimius Severus.
Or what will hereafter be known as
the Arch of Severus Snape.

Our special treat for the weekend came in the form of a visit by our favorite English. The Joneses graciously put their holiday lives on hold to come spend the weekend with us. For the last several years, they’ve caught up with us on our travels through Europe. This was the first trip, however, where we both brought all of our little ones. It was a special and super fun reunion, although I hope my two little heathens didn’t influence their sweet daughter. Our merry band caught some of the normal sights as well as the Forum and Coloseum. It just so happened that on Saturday night a certain Birmingham City Football Club had a game on Sky Sports. It was my duty to expose my boys to a poly-cultural experience- Americans with English friends, at an Irish pub, in Italy, ordering (bad) Indian food. Very worldly.

Just playing in the street after too much gelato.
As with all good things, this had to come to an end. We went out for one last (poor) dinner as a crew, made our way back to the hotel, and shared hugs and kisses. I was up at 4 the next morning, gave all of my sleeping beauties a kiss goodbye, and went downstairs for my car to the airport. D and the boys had a slightly later flight, and made it home safe and sound later that day. As for me, I’m still on my journey- more on that in a day or two…

Oh yeah, about the food. In the lead up to this trip, I didn’t have as much time as I usually do to research where to eat. They say it’s hard to find a bad meal in Rome, so I figured that Trip Advisor would steer me clear. Social media as a food tool let me down this time. For example, the #8 (of 1500+) restaurant in Rome (according to TA) served a pasta carbonara that consisted of raw (not al dente, raw) pasta with what were essentially scrambled eggs laced throughout. This is a classic Roman dish that any self-respecting Roman has mastered. And things got worse from there. The only decent food I had was a desperate turn to random walk-away pizza spots on the street. This was a very disappointing and vexing aspect of the trip. Anyway, hang on, I'll finish the story shortly. Merry Christmas, Love y'all!


The Asterisk

A couple of readers called me out on an asterisk in yesterdays post, for which there was no explanation. My bad, forgot to write it- here goes. 

*As most of you know, I’m almost dead in the middle of the road when it comes to politics. If pressed to make a choice, however, I tend to shade right. I don’t really follow politics, because even at the best of times it’s a nasty slimy business. Over the past few weeks, however, I’ve been totally shocked at what I’ve seen (primarily from the left). The name-calling, the fear-mongering, the rage, the disowning of friends, the hate for those who don’t live in coastal cities- it’s appalling. It’s almost as if they grew up playing sports where the only thing that matters is participation, and where they were deprived of learning the lessons of winning and losing at a young age…oops…

So the left dog cusses everyone who is not a liberal, criticizes everything the man does, and then feigns indignation that he’s not coming to them with an olive branch to kiss the ring and carry their agenda forward. It would be funny if it wasn’t true. Anyway, all of this hasn't really made me more of a republican, it's simply pushed me away from politics altogether- which is a shame. 

In any event, my prediction for the next four years is that there will be opportunity out there for all Americans to succeed and grow- what remains to be seen is who will embrace those opportunities and take advantage of them, and who will spite themselves by sitting on the sidelines and protesting while those opportunities pass by. Life will (continue to) be there for the taking for those who are willing to work for it. 
The other thing I was called out on was the omission of music of the week. So let’s go with Noel and Ian. Love this song, it reminds me of the boys...damn, I don’t want to leave them. And while we're another some older Ian.


A Special Kind of A**hole, Part 2

Ok, I’m back. If you’ve been reading me the past couple of months, you’ve no doubt noticed that I tried to embrace a different part of my persona- the darker, rage and anger filled part. While I have, no doubt been filled with rage and anger during portions of my cancer experience, as a whole, it’s just not me. I thought that exploring that portion of my persona would provide a new and entertaining perspective to write from while allowing me to blow off some steam. Reality ended up being quite the opposite- I never got comfy writing with that voice, the topics veered into places that I didn’t want to go, and some people got the wrong impression about where I was coming from. In fact, it was brought to my attention that at least one member of my Board at the Design Studio thought that I was saving up to write a vitriolic, vengeful post about how I’ve been treated there. I was taken aback that anyone would think I would go that route- maybe they have something on their conscience, who knows. For the record, however, I’ve never planned on doing anything like that. In almost six years of writing, I’ve never used this space to go after anyone personally, I don’t plan on doing it now. That said, when my time at the Studio is over, will I write about my experiences there? Maybe, who knows, but only if there’s an entertaining story to tell. All of which is to say that I’m officially ending my experiment with trying to delve into my darker side and write from a perspective that I don’t really live. Moving swiftly on…

Haas Haus

To pick up where we left off after the Battle of Brum, we had a lovely dinner with both sets of Joneses and Monsieur Mills before heading off to bed. We woke up early the next morning for a flight to Austria via Amsterdam. We arrived early afternoon in enough time to stroll around the city center. Unbeknownst to me, our hotel, Do & Co., was located inside one of my favorite contemporary buildings- Hans Hollein’s Haas Haus. I’ve actually used that building in this blog as an example of something or other (probably the obvious geode metaphor). It was a nice treat- as was the hotel. (Design Hotels always do a nice job). After strolling for a bit, we stopped by a traditional Austrian pub for an early dinner. I went with sausages for a starter and Weinerschnitzel for my main- The boy had sausages to start, and sausages for his main (hard to argue). It was then back to the hotel to get all gussied up for the evening’s main event- Don Pasquale at the Vienna State Opera. 

The entire opera experience was just fantastic. The architecture was lovely, and while not as old as I expected, provided a great atmosphere from arrival to seat. The boy fawned over the busts of the greats within- Mozart, Hayden, Schubert, Strauss, and others. To top it off, yours truly came through with the private box in the Loge level- we did it in style. The show was great despite the fact that neither of us understood a word. Afterwards, we walked over to Hotel Sacher for a bit of a tea and their eponymous torte, which is as famous as the hotel. All in all, we felt pretty civilized for a couple of deplorables* from the South. 

The next day was our last in Vienna, it was an all-out scramble to see as much as we could in that short time. We spent part of the day in our shoevrolets, and the afternoon with the on-off bus tour. We managed to see an awful lot, but probably could’ve used another day or two to dig deeper. All in all I really enjoyed Vienna, I don’t know that I’ll ever make it back there, but it was definitely worth the trip this time. 

Progenitor of Modernism: the Secession Building

The following day we once again put our lives and our sanity in Delta’s hands- and once again, it was a hellish day of travel. I’ll spare the details of the AMS Delta employees who screwed us over, of an itinerary where every leg was delayed, and of the Detroit TSA personnel who uncaringly savaged a carefully wrapped gift for my wife because they didn’t understand what a cake was- but it was a laughably horrible experience. That day I vowed never to return to Europe and never to fly Delta. (I broke one of those vows today and will break the other next week.) But seriously, screw them all…just writing about it makes me furious…sorry.

Progenitor of Modernism: Austrian Postal Savings Bank

This was a trip of highs and lows for the boy and me. Fortunately, we’ve already forgotten (most of) the lows, and the highs are still fresh in our memories. I’ll try to be more consistent about writing in the coming months, and hopefully I’ll have something about more travel next week. So, until that adventure, Ciao! (how’s that for a hint?) 

Health update: It appears that while I was traipsing around Vienna, my hemoglobin had dropped to 6.7! No wonder I was so fatigued. From the day I got back and started with a blood infusion for the anemia, I have constantly been in ether the doctor’s office or in a hospital bed. I’ve had half a dozen scans in this short time. The highlights of my maladies include: an abscess that developed between my liver and chest wall that then grew up between my ribs (second worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life) that worked its way to the skin and eventually erupted in a spectacular explosion of foul-smelling pus and blood all over my surgeon’s waiting room; two abscessograms; and one procedure for a wholesale exchange of all of my liver drains. All of that said, during that time I managed to stay on top of work, cook Thanksgiving dinner, take the family to Disney WWOS for a soccer tournament, catch all of my son’s basketball games, watch the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship games, and help throw my other son a kick-ass birthday party. I guess you could say I’m doing all right.


A Special Kind of A**hole

Well my friends, you will have a front row seat for a spectacular meltdown- I’m not going to continue to play all of this fucking bullshit. I hope nobody else gets caught up in the wake of this shit show, but I’m getting tired of “living” like this.

I’m back for another week friends, still on the top side of the dirt. Unfortunately, I’m still struggling- can’t win for losing. Every time it starts to look like life may just pull itself together, I catch some kind of bullshit non-sense- either from another person, or as some special bullshit from life itself. Unfortunately, I can’t really speak the truth in those terms this week, because it takes a special kind of asshole to moan about how shitty life is when he has just returned from what would be for the vast majority of human beings the trip of a lifetime. I suppose the play will be to hold off on the bitching this week as much as possible, and tell the story of the trip. I must add, however, that there was significant bullshit going on during the trip. The magnitude of the bullshit is such that at one point during the return leg of the journey I swore to never return to Europe…I may still mean it. In fact, these are the words I banged out into “Notes” on my mobile during the height of my anger:

“Fuck Europe*. I'm never going back. Also, fuck: KLM, Delta, the assholes who work at AMS and VIE, the innumerable beggars of Vienna, the pendejos at Jamonarium, the Co-Op, located in a small town in England, the Sky Lounge at VIE, and the Delta paperwork personnel at AMS, (the list goes on but I’ll stop there). I've seen all I need to see of you in the last two decades- now fuck off.”

As I mentioned, however, I’m going to try to be nice this week. Let’s see how well I do. 

The trip started with our departure flight being delayed several times- and with every conceivable other flight from CHA booked, we faced the very real possibility of losing days of our vacation. No one at Delta or CHA seemed to give a shit- not the gate agents, and not the platinum customer service rep. She offered us a bunch of sky miles to get me off the phone, but never actually followed through. After hours of trying to work with someone, anyone, we were offered a VAN RIDE to ATL (during rush hour, with the certainty of a trip through their famous security lines, and uncertainty of even making our connection). Unfortunately, we had no choice but to find any way to get out of CHA. When we finally arrived, the check-in lady in the Sky Priority line couldn’t print our boarding passes. After 10 minutes of trying, she told us the bald-faced lie that she was needed somewhere else in the airport, and that we needed to get back in the general boarding line to see another agent to have our passes printed. We watched as she then proceeded to help numerous other customers  for the next 20 minutes as we stood in the fucking line waiting for…wait, wait, wait… this is bitching and complaining. Promised I wouldn’t do that. Let’s try again.

Driving the friendly skies.

We left CHA on Wednesday and arrived in Birmingham, England on Thursday. My brother Jem met us, and we were off for the day. The day was pretty chill- just I what I needed. After setting up shop in the lovely village of Henley-in-Arden, we rendezvoused with Sarah and Ms. Sophie and went for a stroll around Stratford. We showed big boy all the Shakespearean sights and stopped for traditional pasties- solid workingman’s food- again, just what I needed. Afterward, the boys trotted off to the BCFC club store to buy all of the Blues gear we could fit in the suitcase. That evening the whole crew joined the incomparable Alan and Anne Jones for a curry. I love those two very deeply, and seeing them was good for both heart and soul.

Friday was quintessential England. We took the kids to Warwick Castle- a big-ass proper castle that was built by William the Conqueror. I love castles, and while this one is privately run by something akin to an amusement park operator, there is enough uncommercialized and untouched history in the grounds that it makes up for it. In fact, having it run by private sector interests has increased the amount of money spent on maintenance, upkeep, and preservation as compared with a typical, state-run castle. It just so happens that the castle also has an operable trebuchet that launches flaming projectiles every few hours- that’s good stuff. After some chemo-related vomiting in the woods outside the castle, the long day of sightseeing came to a fitting end with an outstanding plate of beige (fish and chips) for dinner- I opted for the haddock, whilst the boy (who often lacks common sense), went with the prawns. It was then back to the hotel where we both fell asleep just before the ending of Die Hard. A good day indeed.

That's a proper castle

Have fun storming the castle boys.

The next day was another type of quintessential England. After sleeping in and having a full English, we cruised over to the Joneses around lunchtime. From there, it was off to the football. We went down the Hawthornes to support the Baggies (West Bromwich Albion- my second team) against Manchester City (perhaps the best team in the world). The first game of football I ever saw was at the Hawthornes- Baggies against Norwich City in what is now called the Championship (the division just below the top league which is the Premier League). In any event, Alan Jones and Albion’s club Secretary Dr. John Evans treated me like a king and I’ll never forget that. So I have a spot in my heart for the Baggies. Unfortunately for them, it was a case men against boys in the game against Man City. Aguero scored first (winning me a tidy sum from the book), and it ended 4-nil (Aguero 2, Gündoğan 2). In reality, City could have put up any number they wanted. 

Big Boy on the way to the Hawthornes

Not a shabby grounds.

Oi, the Premiership and their pomp. Just get the boys
on the field and give them a ball already. 

You're not supposed to smile that big when down 4-nil.

That’s got us about halfway through the trip- I’ll fill you in on the remainder next week. As for a medical update, I’ve decided to suspend that practice as long as there are folks who would use that information against me. I’m sorry that the very few have to spoil it for everyone, but that’s what the world has come to. I’ll be back next week, in the meantime ya’ll be good. All my love- C.Rushing

Hmm…what I have been listening to lately? Nothing consistent really, so why don’t we don’t we foreshadow next week

*Please note that by their own vote, the UK is no longer part of Europe. 


A Giant Sucking Sound

Apologies for all of the cussing this week, but I’m sure the Good Lord will forgive me, and the media is saying that it means you’re more intelligent. If so, let’s get this shit started. 

The weekend, ah the weekend. From a general sense it was just fine, I got to spend it with the family, that’s all I ask of a weekend, really. Big boy’s team won their tournament, and the little one didn’t seem too bothered that his team lost their friendly. In the end, ‘Bama overcame itself and won against a top ten team. So it’s tough to say I had a tough weekend. 

That said, a lot of things sucked. A lot of people sucked, and life in many ways conspired to make things suck. I have therefore, in line with my new approach to life, decided to starting calling out things that suck, describing why they suck, and outlining any steps I may take to counter these sucks in the future. Warning, no one is safe, and there is no sacred cow. 

Things that Suck: October 22-28

-Murfreesboro, Tennessee. What a horrible place. We played our tourney there and had to spend the night. The place is nothing more than a series of strip malls tied together by crazy TDOT projects with some half-finished sub-divisions scattered around for good measure. ACTION: None, other than to try to avoid the place at all costs. 

-The parents of the TN SC 05 Showcase youth soccer team. Horrible soccer parents- bad hombres and nasty women to be certain. Please learn how to conduct yourselves in public with some level of decency. Also, please learn the rules before you jump on the referees. ACTION: None, other than to hope we don’t play them in another tourney this year.

-The O’Charley’s in Franklin, TN. Despite having the lowest expectation of anything on this list, the place still managed to leave a (literal) bad taste in our mouth. As the youngin’ and I were driving up to reunite the family in M’boro after his friendly, we thought it would be a good idea to stop at a casual dining bar and watch a few minutes of the ‘Bama game- it wasn’t. It’s sad and depressing, but this how America feeds itself. ACTION: Long-term boycott of said establishment. 

-Richard Siegel Field (or whomever runs the programs there). Even though the boys won it, this was a poorly run tournament. The icing was what is in every other tournament a 10-minute medal ceremony, that turned into an interminable wait for any form of acknowledgment or authority figure to take charge. When someone finally stepped up, it was akin to a duffer agonizing over a six-inch putt for quadruple bogey- get off the stage! ACTION: Hope we never have to play there again.

and some things sucked in Chattanooga as well…

-One morning when I was desperately hungry, and craving a butter croissant, I went to the ordinarily outstanding Neidlov’s. Problem was, on this day it was cash only – who the hell carries cash anymore. I ended up leaving hungry and bitterly disappointed. ACTION: I’m boycotting Neidlov’s for some amount of time, yet to be determined.

-After a particularly hard day, I left a meeting at River City and dropped downstairs to Community Pie, as I was craving their papardelle Bolognese. To my dismay, they have taken that off the menu. Being a Cretan, the bartender couldn’t fathom that I didn’t want another pasta with the same sauce. The pasta should be the star, the sauce is simply a condiment. I left without eating- hungry and disappointed. ACTION: I’m boycotting Community Pie for the indefinite future. 

That’s all I can write about as far as things that suck go. Deep breath. How about some good things? I’m proceeding with my new happiness strategy, and it seems to be working pretty well when I’m not in a rage. I’m still trying to figure the rural land issue out so I can design and build a new house (but nothing is set yet, so please keep the tips and leads coming!) Retail therapy has been quite successful, but I might cool those greens until we get the house stuff figured out. I got to take my new rifle out earlier this week before I left. I stopped by Academy Sports to buy some ammo beforehand and ended up buying a new gun as well- I’m officially out of control (I love it). As you may have inferred from above, I have also decided to damn the reasons that I can’t embark on long-distance travel, and that is what I’m up to this week. A lot you know about it, the rest of you will have to wait until next week to hear the details – unless you keep an eye on Facebook.

On the health front, I’m back on the chemo these days, so fatigue is still an issue, as is pain from time to time. As I understand it, we’ve slightly adjusted the chemo, and the side effects are slightly different. Sensitivity to cold of all kinds, and let’s say “intestinal distress” at inopportune moments are the two biggest. They keep telling me I’m going to lose my hair, but it’s heroically hanging on as best I can tell. It’s also supposed to be some seriously nasty stuff, but I don’t feel too bad off. My biggest issue right now is my self-diagnosed gastroparesis. Essentially, my stomach is not clearing food that I eat, so a meal can sit around in there for a day or two causing gas, cramps, reflux, bloating, vomiting, etc. It makes it difficult to eat because there is no room for new food to go- this is probably a big reason why I keep losing/can’t gain weight.

On the happy side of health, however, I have found, that at least for now, if I keep on top of the pain management, nap regularly, and give my body a break from time to time, I’m fine as frog hair. Ooh, I love a nap- any time of day or night. Give me my couch, my Phi Delt blanket and anything over 20 minutes and I’m golden. 

That’s my thousand-plus words for the week. Be on the lookout for a more interesting post next time. I'm still ready to die, but on my terms. See you next week?

As for music, why not keep it aggressive and vulgar? I'm gon give it to ya


Above the Dirt

Well friends, after your robust response yesterday, I feel compelled to make a quick follow-up. Perhaps I put too a fine a point on a post that was essentially a whinge about the difficulties of not having "a future" to look forward to.

There is no need to hide my shoe-laces and belts. I have no nefarious intent for either of new firearms. I am still 100% fully engaged in my professional work both in Chattanooga and in the great state of Iowa (where I can found this week). I still love ya'll, and I'm not completely checking out of my social responsibilities.

I greatly appreciate all of your sentiments, best wishes, and love- I can feel it. So, as I said, don't cry for me just yet, I'm still above the dirt.

I'll be back soon, in the meantime, enjoy some pix of the new Beretta...


Sleep Now in the Fire

Ok, this is serious and I need your help. I’ve decided that I have the wherewithal to find some land and design one last home for myself. The problem is, I don’t have land. In the past I restricted myself to urban neighborhoods (surprise), but I've since become enamored with the possibility of something in the country, rural, or semi-rural. If you happen to know of anything on the market in the Chattanooga area that might appeal- PLEASE give me a shout (I’m on tight schedule here- death is nipping at my heels.) I’ve posted on Facebook, and asked a real estate agent to help, but nothing has turned up so far. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help. 

Also, please let me know if there is a custom home builder that you or a friend have used and been very happy with, I could use some recommendations on that part of the equation as well. 

(Please note: I do feel bad about pleading for your help before I drop this awful blog post on you).

This post may be disappointing for a number of you to read. It has been disappointing to write. This is perhaps appropriate, however, as life is a disappointment. I’m going all Charles Barkley on you this week- so remember, I am not a role model. 

I’m ready to die. Not from the sense that I’ve made things right with the Lord and my soul is prepared- I’ve been there for a while. I mean, I’ve had about all I can take. 19 months of some of the wickedest chemotherapy you can cook up, coupled with a serious radiation session when my colon was invaded has made my life during this time pretty damned tough (not the mention the two bouts of sepsis, the other infections, the months of hospital stays, the half dozen ERCPs, the dozen drain replacements, the six weeks of home IV anti-biotics, the half dozen abscessograms, and countless CTs, scans and labs). We all know there is no “getting better” from gall bladder cancer. It doesn’t appear that my quality of life will improve, I just have to make myself happy with less and less as time passes. Well, I’ve reached a point where moving on to what’s next doesn’t sound like such a dire proposition. I’m quite ready to move on. I'm ready to die. 

The central question has been how to live any form of meaningful life given my current circumstance. As I've said previously, before cancer I had it all figured out. I knew what was important in life, and what I needed to do on a daily basis to enjoy it. It just so happened that those things all happened to be legally, ethically and morally sound, made a positive contribution to society, and generally conformed to what it means to be a “good person”. I put god and my family first, then found things that made life enjoyable- and I was indeed living a dream.

To be sure, there are a number of those things that cancer can’t touch, and that I continue to do. The ability to love my children is a simple example. But let’s be frank- with school and friends and their own interests, how much time do a seven year old and an eleven year old want to spent with a broken old person who’s too weak to even be able to kick a soccer ball with them?

Cancer has managed to rob me of virtually everything that helped me enjoy life. 

I can’t play sports- to the point that I’m too weak to throw a football to my children (much less play basketball with my friends). Go for a run- ha! Return to the triathlon world- what a joke.

I can’t travel- of course, I can technically buy a ticket and go to Rome if I wish. My skeleton of a body, however, is too frail to sit in an airline seat for eight hours (even in the front of the plane). Once there, I’m too fatigued to be able to effectively walk anywhere. Then, there’s the whole question of being near my doctors. 

I can’t eat- technically I can eat, however, the cancer has robbed me of my appetite. It has also changed the way food tastes. No matter how much I eat, I can’t gain weight or strength, I currently weight 50 pounds less than I should- that’s almost 33%.

I can’t cook- one of my great joys in life was preparing meals for my family on a daily basis and twice a day on the weekends. I no have the stamina to work in the kitchen. It’s also difficult to cook when the prospect of eating is so unpleasant. 

I can’t consume alcohol- Due to the condition of my liver, there is no alcohol at all. No wine with my pasta, no beer with a sausage. No social drink of whiskey with a client, no drinks to fit in with the crowd. No drinks to drown myself to escape this situation. 

I can’t swim. With the various tubes sticking out of my liver and out of my body, immersion is a no-no. So for every vacation I get the gut punch of having to tell the boys I can't play in the ocean or jump in the pool with them. It’s awful. (a quick hop in the shower is also a thing of the past- anything like that requires thirty minutes of wrapping up like a mummy.

It’s tougher to enjoy my friends- I’ve never been a very social person. I’m not the guy that goes out to meet his buddies every evening- I vastly prefer returning home to the boys every afternoon. Getting together with my closest friends, however, is still very tough. A lot of those relationships were lubricated by grabbing an adult beverage (not an option), or an occasional cigar (not an option). Layer on to that the awkwardness of dealing of with someone whose death is imminent is also tough for some folks. Which is not to say that I’ve lost  track with everyone- I still see the ones that matter from time to time. I’ve become a good judge of who’s with me. 

I can’t garden/work in the yard- again with the lack of stamina, and a skeletal frame that doesn’t do well with bending over, or up and down movements it’s just not possible.

I can’t teach anymore- I really enjoyed teaching the architecture history class at UTC. With the uncertainty in my schedule due to chemo and unanticipated procedures, I can’t commit to being there the way I need to.

All of this is to say that virtually all of the things that I enjoyed in life have been taken away. Think of the things that make your broader life worth living (disregarding the family/love thing which we’ve already covered)- what is life without those things? What is life? When robbed of the things in life that one enjoys, you are left with no life at all. Try waking up to that every morning. 

I’m arrived at the point where I’ve finally lost the ability to put a happy face on things. I’ve carried on for 19 months with that attitude in all manner of blogs and podcasts and social media, but it’s run out.  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m over talking about how I’m living the dream. Most of the things that I’ve ever enjoyed in life have been taken from me, and I can’t honestly look someone in the eye and talk about how great things are. 

I won’t even start on the people who are trying taking advantage of me, or trying to make my life more difficult. That’s for another post, and I’ll deal with them they way the way need to be dealt with.  

I’m sure there are a number of you who will be disappointed in my attitude, because my previous one was “uplifting”, or “inspiring”, or some other such adjective. The good lord will probably have a few things to say about it himself. My only defense is that expressing myself honestly and telling the truth as I see it is more important to me than getting Facebook likes. I'm not putting my blog out as a book as some have requested, I'm not a writing yet another tired book from the terminal cancer patient as has become de rigueur. I'm living the rest of life (may it be appropriately short) on my terms.

So that’s where things stand right now. There are a couple of things I’ll leave you with in parting:

1) Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m dealing with things in my own way. If you see me at the office, in a restaurant, a coffee shop, or otherwise out in public, I’m there for a reason. I’ll be there with a smile on my face and a positive attitude. I’ll continue to do an excellent job in my professional endeavors, and will remain a steadfast friend to my friends. The attitude described in this blog post is of my private self. Please feel free to treat me (and my public self) the way you always have.

2) I’ve also decided to once again take charge of my life and enjoy what’s left of it and be happy. Unfortunately, unlike the previous “good person” approach, it’s looking like I will have to do this from a place of selfishness. Obviously, it will not be my intent to harm others, but I’m 100% committed to doing what is best for me. You may or may not recognize the difference. Under my new policy, a few things have made me happy: a) a new shotgun, b) a new assault rifle (I had to buy it before Hillary gets elected), c) telling fast food workers on Broad Street my opinion on their job performance, d) a new pair of obnoxious gucci loafers, e) significantly exceeding the speed limit in my car (which is designed to exceed the speed limit), and g) the lifting of the ban on Cuban cigars for personal use.

I don’t know where the blog will fit in with this new approach. I suspect that it will be less fun for you to read about my selfish hedonistic adventures than self-righteous platitudes about how to take cancer in stride. In either event, as always, if it write it here, it will be the truth (unlike either the criminal or clown that are vying to run our country). But the bigger question will be if writing about the shambles of what i've been left with will appeal to me at all. 

Better than beating the Vols...which to be fair is old hat now.
Oh, and I guess I should say something about Alabama beating Tennessee again. I'm missed the game because I was watching my youngest play soccer in his first ever travel tournament. Go Team, I guess. 

See ya’ll whenever next time is. Enjoy some Rage this week.


Obligatory Ironman Post

So, now that Chattanooga hosts its own Ironman event, I am forced to remind everyone each year that I once finished an Ironman- Florida 2002.

This update is different. Similar to the Zapruder film, video evidence of the event has been uncovered. As my brother was the cameraman, only he can explain why less than two minutes exist of an event that lasted well over a dozen hours (if you know Andrew, then you won't need to question why). Here we go.

Still looking for time and motivation to write you a real post. I'll do my best.


Another Update Post

It’s been a rather hectic autumn. A shame really. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and I didn’t really get to enjoy it. To be fair, my doctors and nurses are all still shocked/amazed that I’m working full-time while undergoing treatment for multiple liver abscesses, administering home IV antibiotics, and dealing with three drains hanging out of my liver. Eh, what’s a guy to do, stay at home and watch Springer? (I'm dating myself) No time for a deep and/or meaningful post, so you must once again settle for an update. 

Work has been a mixed bag. As always, Iowa has been a joy and pleasure to work on, and we’re busy on some really good projects. Closer to home, it’s been a bit of a struggle for a variety of reasons. This will be an interesting topic to write about when the time is right, but now I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone.

A few weeks ago the state chapter of the AIA held their annual convention in Chattanooga. On the final day they presented me with the 2016 TN AIA Presidential Award of Excellence. Ostensibly, this is for my efforts in working to establish the Design Studio, but as with a number of the other very kind gestures I’ve received over the past year, I suspect my cancer also has something to do with it. Cancer or no cancer, however, that’s a tremendous acknowledgment and I appreciate everyone who had something to do with it- I would name names, but I’m sure I’d forget someone, but anyway, you know who you are. 

Many thanks to the architects. 

In other C.Rushing news, a few months I agreed to sit down with my buddy Matt Busby to talk about cancer and career. A few weeks ago when he launched his Camp House podcast, he put those interviews online. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, you can find the career interview here and the cancer interview here. (and he’s big on checking the analytics of his site, so please at least follow the links and let’s see if we can get his numbers up. 

As far as ‘Bama goes, I have severe concerns. The finals of our two games have belied what I consider to be serious flaws in the football team. Although it will break my heart to see, I suspect they will lose two games this years- it feels an awful lot like 2010. As long as we beat Tennessee and Auburn, however, I’ll be able to die happy.

Ya’ll have a great week, and hopefully I’ll be able to really get back with you soon. Cheers.


D'you Know?

I really, really wish I had time to sit down and compose a nice blog post for you. Unfortunately, there have not been enough hours in my day. I would, at least, like you to know that I’m still kicking. Rest assured that the reason for my silence is due to being busy, not due to malaise. In addition to being “busy” it is also a rather dynamic time for me. I suspect I will have more to fill you in on shortly.  

Health is headed in the right direction. The tumor has stayed the same size despite the fact I haven’t had chemo in a couple of months. We’ve just about licked the multiple liver abscesses, and hopefully the drains will come out in a week or so. Of course, I’m not perfect – I’m anemic, I’m still on antibiotics, my numbers on various organs are up and down due to medicines, and I’m quite skeletal and need to pick up some weight. But all in all, as long as I don’t look in the mirror I feel pretty damned good. 

The boys are both in school- one is loving his new academic environment, the other has settled in for another year-long battle with teachers and administrators (or something like that). Travel soccer (and practice) is also in full swing for the boys, so here’s to another Fall of seeing the South, one soccer tournament at a time. 

Alabama’s first game is in 5 days, and I’m having a tough time generating enthusiasm. I think I had so much emotionally invested in dying while ‘Bama was the National Champion that I’ve subconsciously dreaded a new season. Subconscious dread or not, football is upon us. The other football is upon us as well. Birmingham City has a decent but not stellar start to the season. It would be nice to see them in person again before I kick the can.

Anyway, that’s life in a nutshell. I promise to try to find some time to craft a better read sometime very soon. Until then, ya’ll be good.

This week’s top track: one of my top three favorite songs by my favorite band got remixed by Noel. This is the original, this is the remix. Can you guess my favorite? For fun, this is a hilarious interview with Noel discussing the song (F-bomb warning)


Rain, Rain Go Away...

Rushing Health Update: The boy had another MRI on his leg and we had a second opinion and we don’t think it’s as bad as the original prognosis. He’s still looking at another couple of weeks crutches- but good news on the whole. Me, I’m still on these anti-biotics (some by pill, some by portable IV), and liver drains. I look terrible, but I think I’ve still got my mind right. The other two are pictures of health.

Like clockwork, the time has come again for family vacation, and like swallows to Capistrano, the Rushings head to Seaside. I was so proud of myself when I found that for the same money we could be taking the boys to places that in addition to obvious vacation amenities held some form of cultural or worldly value. The first year we went to Costa Rica- for about the same money as it took to go to Seaside. It was one of the best vacations ever. I was looking forward to continuing to expand their range as they got older- and then I got this bullshit cancer and my wings were clipped.

As I tell you every year, Seagrove was my "home beach" and this part of the world is my default when I think of vacation. Since all of Seagrove is essentially built over (and the new Seagrove Market is starting to take shape…I’m still bitter), and because there is a deeper design reason, we’ve adopted Seaside (200 yards west) as home beach. Part of me hates doing the same thing every year when we have such a rich country to explore, but it's just so easy, and I suppose there is something to be said for tradition. There's something to be said for watching your children play on the same beaches you did, swim in the same waters you did, eat the same $15 hormone and steroid-free, grass-fed, family-farmed and pasture-raised turkey hot dogs…wait, what?

Uh, yeah...hello vacation forecast. 

After several weeks of metaphoric storm clouds, the Rushings have arrived at the beach to find real ones. Who knows what the rest of the week will hold for us, but this is the forecast:

Florida weather, however, is about as trustworthy as a Clinton/Trump ticket, so I suspect we’ll have plenty of sunshine. From my perspective, however, rain/no rain is all the same. In this sad, feeble-ass body* I can’t spend much time in the sun, and sadly I can’t jump in the pool or the ocean. I currently have three drains poking out of my liver. One was installed in Houston last fall, and it’s now more or less a permanent addition to my body. The other two more recently installed additions are set to come out after their usefulness comes to an end. Until they’re removed, I have two little sacks that hang by my side and collect purulent drainage and bile. In any event, they don’t play well will immersion, so anything akin to swimming or wading are right out. So while, the rain won’t bother me, I hope for D and the boys sake they get more than a few days of sun.

I think need this vacation. I probably should have used my spare time in the hospital to relax a bit, but everything I'm working on right now is so compelling and fun that it's tough to pull away from. Also, I always feel a certain guilt for being in the hospital and letting my clients down, so I work- a fun penance of a sort. During vacation, however, I don't feel so bad about turning off for a specified period of time (I did bring my computer just in case though- for blog writing purposes only...or something like that).

I have an idea for what I might want to write about fun to share in the blog next week, we’ll just have to see if I can pull it off or not. Stay tuned. I love you all, please have a good week, and hopefully we’ll catch up in a weeks time. Until then cheers!

This week's music: This is appropriate, as is this

*It’s amazing what extended time in the hospital will do to your body. I never recovered the full weight I lost in Houston in last fall, a full forty pounds. I got some of it back, but gave it all back this last month. I hate looking in the mirror- that’s not me, that’s some other poor, pathetic soul. But we play the hand we’re dealt…we play the ball as it lies…(sorry, my rah-rah levels are a bit low, hopefully vacation will help me bounce back). 


In Praise of Her

If you ever want to forget that you’re sick or not doing well, let one of your children get hurt. On the last play, of the last game, of the last day of basketball camp, the boy fractured his leg. It’s some kind of microfracture, so he avoided a cast, but he’s still got 4-6 weeks before he’s back in action. Oh, and did I happen to mention that this happened on the eve of the fall soccer academy season? Given, all of our medical issues, however, everyone in the family seems to be in pretty good spirits. 

Speaking of members of the family, I don’t really write in depth about them out of concern for their privacy. Sure, I talk plenty about what sport they’re playing, or if they’re traveling, but I shy away from writing about them. I am not going to break that policy in this post, I just want you to know that as I describe things (tasks), these tasks are not the reason I love my family. The love part goes far past what you do, and delves deeper into personality, and soul, and temperament. So please don’t get all salty and say I only love my son because I ask him to get up and fix a lemonade for me. Now that we’ve got that covered, we can continue.

Let me tell you one little story about how amazing my wife is. This is just an example, the typical Saturday morning over the past few weeks. She gets up before anyone and goes to the gym. By the time the boys are up, she’s home and has already made breakfast for the family. While the boys are eating, she checks her email quickly, then gets a head start on the laundry (which is a herculean task). After breakfast she takes the boys for some form of activity (bike riding, riverwalk, etc). They arrive home shortly before lunch, she takes a shower and cleans up. Sometimes she cooks lunch, sometimes we eat out, but immediately afterward we run errands- groceries, dry cleaning, etc. In the mid afternoon, the boys are turned loose, and she returns her attention to the laundry and starts to prepare dinner. Late afternoon we always do something family related- a board game, a movie, something that allows her to keep an eye on dinner. Then dinnertime comes. Afterwards, it’s upstairs and into the bath/shower for the boys, and cleaning up the dinner mess for mom. Afterwards they come back down and we have some more time- sometimes a movie, sometimes a game, sometimes they get sent to bed early for acting a fool. Bedtime always comes around too quickly for the boys. Once they’re situated, she finishes off the laundry. If there is enough time afterward she’ll treat herself to Netflix or a book, but more often than not she comes to lay down with me and we go to sleep.

On the weekdays when she was home with me after hospitalization, it was the same gig, only worse- same number of tasks, just throw in an hour-long conference call every couple of hours. 

Writing those words is a gut-shot. That she does so much and I do so little is criminal. Granted, this is atypical- I’m usually more mobile and able to help out a little bit, we don’t usually have a boy with a leg fracture, and the whole team pitches in to help out. But it really is amazing to watch her operate, especially when you consider that while she is doing all of this she knows her husband is dying of cancer and her son is hurt.

My wife is a truly amazing person, and remember we’re just talking about what she can do, I haven’t even touched on who she is. I could go on at length about all of the things that she does both in task and in spirit to hold our crew together, but it still wouldn’t do it justice. All I can say is that I am one incredibly lucky man. Were it not for her, I can honestly say I would not be here friends.  


Chasing my Pot 'o Gold

Against better judgment I'm writing this week. The question was many pessimistic, negative posts I can write before it sucks for me (by which time it has long sucked for you)  I somehow convinced myself that this was an update not just bitching. Here goes:

Last week was as tough a week as I've had. My entire right side hurt because of the new liver drain they put in. I was constantly exhausted to the point of not moving for hours, and then when I needed to only for short trips. Walking the steps felting like running a marathon (and yes I've run a few marathons.)  On top of all this, I had my 24-hour IV pump. I got the carry the large new pump in a fanny pack. Home Health Care stopped by a couple of times, but I was primarily responsible for maintaining the pump.

The Big Effing Pot of Gold at the end of the hospital stay and awful week was Sunday night, when the IV would be disconnected, my port deaccessed, and my life would be like it was before this whole ordeal started.

Late Saturday afternoon after a very nice nap, I took my temperature: 103.2. Oh. shit- on the weekend that means an automatic emergency room visit. Another measurement: Shit. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We all packed clothes, packed in the car, and went to the ER, they dropped me of to handle my stuff, and she took the boys to my in-laws. I Got into the ER, but with my run of you luck, you know I wasn't going home. On Saturday night I was admitted to the hospital again.

I was moved to the IMCU spent Saturday night talking to a lot of new people, none of which knew anything about my last stay here a week ago- so there was a lot of 'splaining to do, not sure it helpful. The most peculiar thing was that even though no one could tell me a thing about what was going on with me, they could all tell me with certainty that I wasn't going home for at least several days...which is bullshit.

I spent Sunday doing nothing, literally nothing. For the people in these places, the value of time is lost. None of the doctors, or nurses or anyone cares- what's a day? waste a day, why not, I've got plenty. For someone on the clock like me, a day is precious, precious gift. A full day of life spent in the IMCU was a tragic loss. I did, however, over the course of the day, get to a see one familiar face and he outlined a game plan. Get a biopsy, then make a plan.

I woke up Monday, and they wheeled me out for the biopsy. By the time I returned to my room I had another liver drain and another little sack of bile that I get to carry around with me every day. Apparently, the aspiration returned some pus, so that Dr. thought is was best drain me again. I'm not sure if this process ends when the drain tube company goes out business or they run out liver to drain.

So here we are, in the hospital indefinitely, at the whim of men (and women) who don't understand the value of time. We do not seem to have a plan to treat whatever is going on with me. We do not seem to know what is going with me.

This one has taken a lot out of me.


History May Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes

Let’s just jump in and get you updated. Last Friday morning, after a long week of fairly hard work (both physical and mental), I dragged myself out of bed and got ready to go to work. I went downstairs, had a seat and started having kind of attack- I started shaking, my breathing was labored and uneven, I lost color, was exhausted, I became a little disoriented, and I started throwing up. Normally, that’s something I might wait out for thirty minutes or so, then head on into work. Thankfully, in a rare moment of common sense, I asked Denise to take me to the doctor. Once I got there, they got me hooked up to an IV and administered whatever, started running labs, and I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke, I was still tired, but otherwise fine.

The doctor came out a few minutes later and had the gall to tell me that he was admitting me to the hospital, on a Friday! After having worked a hard week, I was looking forward to that weekend at home with the family. I argued my case, but lost. I had an awful feeling about this hospital admission. It was only supposed to be for the day- but the last time something like this happened was last Fall in Houston. You may recall that I was supposed to go into the hospital for a day, and came out almost a month later and 35 lbs lighter. I also got the parting gift of all sorts of new hardware inside and outside of my body. It’s fair to say that I didn’t want to do this. I actually considered making a run for it, but D was driving so we ended up at the hospital. 

We arrived at the hospital, checked in, headed to the room, got my gown on, and before I could get my non-slip socks on, a crew of folks bum-rushed the room, and said “we’re going to ICU…now.” Which is fine by me because (not to sound too callous but) the customer service is better, as is the information you get. Once they got me plugged into all of the sensors, probes, monitors, and collected some data, and get some lab results, they made the call – sepsis. Yes, ladies and gents, for the second time in less than a year, I was in an ICU fighting for my life (dramatic, huh?) against my own body. Sepsis is pretty serious business. As with last Fall, however, after a couple of hours of working all manner of IV meds and administering some pressors, they were able to stabilize me. The funny thing is that in both cases, I don’t remember feeling particularly bad during the “fight for life”, in fact, I think I was texting people this time around. 

After they got me stabilized, they turned their attention to finding the infection. They sent all of my cultures off to a remote lab, but naturally it’s the weekend, so there’s no telling when those are coming back. We did however, have time for a CT scan to see if it could tell us anything. It did. The apparent source of my problem is an abscess in my liver. It’s basically a portion of tumor that the chemo has killed. What was left behind are necrotic cells, a pocket of air, and about 40 cc’s of fluid- prime breeding ground for an infection. 

On Sunday they went in and installed another liver drain (I’ve got a pair now!)  to drain the air and fluid. They sent some samples off for labs, and when they came back we found that I’ve got some form of gram-negative bacteria running around in there. Fortunately, there exists just the right antibiotic to treat my specific bacteria. Story over, we’ve got a diagnosis, a course of treatment, and I’m ready to go home, right? Wrong.

Monday: Sorry, you can’t go home, we’re starting the IV antibiotic that will fix you. For the next fourteen days you’ll get it every eight hours, and each dose runs about four hours. (Uh…excuse me? IV antibiotics? Fourteen days? Starting now?)

Tuesday: Sorry, you can’t go home, but we’ll let you out of ICU. How do you like your new antibiotics (giggles).

Wednesday: Sorry, you can’t go home (we just like saying that). But when you do, the deal still stands with the antibiotics- It’s an IV treatment for twelve days, every eight hours, four-hour doses. We’ll get you an IV pole and infusion pump. Don’t plan on leaving your house. (Uh…excuse me?)

Thursday: OK, we’ll let you go home, and since we’re in a generous mood, we might just hook you up to this new-fangled portable IV pump that runs for 24 hours. That will allow you to leave the house from time to time- but there’s a catch, you have to wear a large fanny pack. Oh, and we’re sending home health care workers to your house every day.

The final accounting for this 1-day hospital visit: 7 days in the hospital, 5 days in the ICU, and 6 lbs. lost. Not as bad as Houston, but not good. 

I woke up Friday morning in my own bed. Oh, the pure and utter joy of relaxing in the bed, enjoying memories of being reunited with the family the night before, as well as the familiar sights and sounds of the Rushing house. Later in the morning, I joined the conference call for the Design Studio Board Meeting. What a breath of fresh air- and literally the first time in a week I’ve spoken with people who aren’t in the medical field or related to me. As our Chairman was in the process of noting who was in the room, who was going to miss this meeting, and who was on call, he introduced me: “and from the small grey box on the table, we have our Executive Director, Christian Rushing”. To which I replied “Mr. Chairman if you refer to me as being in a small grey box again, we’re going to have a problem”. Hilarity ensued. (queue the laugh track).

This weekend I’ve been at home enjoying being with the family, wearing my fanny pack of IV chemicals, and meeting with a new home health care nurse every day. I’ve had some pain from my new liver drain, some general soreness, and considerable fatigue. On the bright side, each of those issues seem to be trending better. I now get to return from the bizarro-land that is American medicine, and resume LIFE. I’m not completely out of the woods, but things seem to be looking up. I’ve got the next 8 days to balance work and rest, and I’m going to try to try to maintain a balance…seriously…I mean it. 

I love ya’ll, and I hope you’re all well and enjoying your lives. Every note, text, email, and card you send is a blessing, and is genuinely appreciated (prayers especially). Ya'll are the best group of friends a man could ever ask for- I'm blessed indeed. So, until next time, ya’ll be good. 

Tune for the week. A very tough call, but in the end it’s got be something that expresses how angry I was for most of the week, and with a title like Waiting Room, the title also touches on the value of time.