Here goes...
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
27-09-2016, 07:08 AM
RE: Here goes...
When I was in the hospital for a deep bone infection in my femur that seemed to be spreading, there was a young mother with one of the really aggressive cancers in her leg. The docs said they needed to do what sounds like pretty much the same procedure on her. They called it a hemipelvectomy.

I have faced amputation, but not that one. I have some appreciation of the horror you must feel at the prospect and can understand choosing not to have it done. Please know you can talk it out here and not be judged for the path you choose.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 5 users Like Chas's post
27-09-2016, 07:19 AM
RE: Here goes...
(27-09-2016 03:50 AM)The Dark One Wrote:  Ok, I am going to talk about this, even though it really doesn't want to be talked about. I'm a very open person, but my own problems are just not usually discussed...I like to fix them before I even tell my family there is a problem. It's just a Texas thing.

This time, however, I can't do that. Everybody in my family knows now, and...I'm having a really hard time with it. I'm going to break a long standing rule, I guess you could say, and share it here. I don't know what I'm expecting, but I really want to unload it on people who don't have a stake in it, you feel me? After that...who knows. Maybe nothing. I just need to put it into plain words, not carefully chosen ones so that I don't hurt anyone's feelings. Which is really odd, considering that...well. I'll just continue.

I should tell it from the beginning, which will be fun- and long. But the very best time of my life is what sent me here, to this, not the best, part.

But first, the fun stuff. I hope you like this part, because the ending is pretty crappy.

My entire family is in aviation. My father flew in the Army Air Corps from 1938 to 1947, then the Air Force was formed and he moved over. He served from 1947 to 1977 in the US Air Force. My brothers- except one- flew in the AF, Navy or Army, too.

I began flying at age 12. I got my student pilot license at 14, my private license at 17, my commercial at 18, my ATP at 19. (Airline Transport Pilot license) I also collected a commercial helicopter license, instructor ratings, aerobatics, floatplanes, multiengine, glider, really just everything I could get my hands on. Growing up in an aviation family that owned one of the largest cattle ranches in the state of Texas didn't suck.

I flew all over while I was in college, gaining lots of experience and a few type ratings in large and jet aircraft. When I finished OTS (Officer Training School) and left for UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training) at Sheppard AFB, I just KNEW I had the world by the throat.

I breezed through UPT. My intense flying background, the fact that I read incessantly, and the fact that I flourish under pressure made it a cake walk for me. I finished #2 in the class, behind a Lt Richard _________. (I won't use his last name here, for reasons which will become obvious) I was JUST behind him, and he was exceptional, so I was happy.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I was faip'ed. (First Assignment Instructor Pilot, or a plow-back.) Argh! I was bummed, but really it is an honor, you have to stand out to be brought back as an instructor right away. Still...I was a fighter pilot without a fighter, dammit!

I loved the T-37 "Tweet" and the T-38 "Talon", however, and actually had a great time. We played and flew and partied and had...well, a blast.

Suddenly, my time was up, and I was due to get a new toy. I had filled out my form 90 honestly- the "Dreamsheet", where a pilot puts his dream aircraft/assignment on paper. There were various theories about how to fill it out- put your last wish first and your first with last, etc. I didn't even think, I just put down what I wanted in #1. If I didn't get that...whatever. Everyone warned me that I wouldn't, so have a good #2 and #3 and...etc. Stupid! Now I just knew I had screwed myself.

I received my orders. I was to report to Nellis AFB, Nevada, to fly F-15C's for the 65th TFAS (AGRS). My #1 choice! My dream! Holy shit! I was the happiest guy on earth, no doubt at all. I was in a daze, I couldn't believe it was real.

I went through training with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of grins. I was made for the single seat Eagle- it was an easy transition for me. I FIT that airplane. It loved me too.

The 65th Tactical Fighter Aggressor Squadron, also caled the 65th AGRS (Aggressors) depending on what day it was, was a squadron of the baddest of the bad. We were the bad guys, we flew planes in Russian livery, and we trained and trained and trained- ACM all day, DAC all day, we were like SWAT on a police department- we HAD to whup every squadron in the inventory, in exercises like Red Flag. We put the other squadrons through hell, so they could learn. We never lost a fight. We literally were the baddest of the bad. Our job was to challenge and evaluate. It was freaking awesome. We also flew F-5E's, you probably saw them- they were used in Top Gun to simulate the "MiG 28's" that Maverick and Goose were taking photos of. (Just FYI, Russians give even numbers to bombers and some attack aircraft, odd numbers to fighters...it was all Hollywood makeup, there is no MiG 28.) (MiG 15, 17, 19, 21, etc)
We used them to simulate the flying qualities of Gen III Soviet fighter aircraft. I fought for a checkout in the F-5 and got one. I LOVE the F-5. In a no-radar engagement, the speedy, tiny little bastard is almost impossible to acquire visually. I was often able to get away with some pretty sneaky stuff. Plus, they're just damned sexy!

Our squadron patch:

[Image: t4wcqw.jpg]

My F-15C...my dream plane.

[Image: 35iuh69.jpg]

Three of our F-5E's. Sexy, eh?

[Image: 2lu45mv.jpg]

So life is good. I'm in hog heaven, I don't know how I could BE happier.

Then we get a new guy. Lt. Richard _______ from UPT! He and I had been close, and we got even closer now. We were like brothers, we flew and played and sweated and flew some more and just had a better time, although a demanding one, than should be legal.

Richard and I both had a background that earned us some time at Edwards with the test and eval guys. It was a sort of atypical situation that I can't go into- it's silly, it's honestly nothing important, but technically it's classified secret, so we'll have to dance around it a little.

Neither of us was a test pilot, but we were asked to evaluate specific equipment on occasion due to some common ground Richard and I shared. We were often asked to fly a certain flight profile, in either the F-5 or F-15, after they had installed something, and then to write a written report on it. It really was nothing, don't picture laser guns or anything. Just silly military rules. We enjoyed it, though, because it got us more time aloft.

Generally one of us flew whatever bird they wanted us to, and the other guy flew chase in his airplane- not strictly required, but we got away with it, so...we did.

This time, though, the weirdos at Edwards (You have to meet them to understand that) heard Richard wanted to be an IP (Instructor pilot) so they wrangled it so that I could check him out as an IP in a T-38 (Which is a 2 seat F-5...or more accurately, an F-5 is a single seat T-38) and coincidentally, they had some gear they wanted tested that would require a pilot and an operator. See how they worked over there?

Still, an IP checkout and more flight time, so..obviously!

We set up a plan and got it approved for 12 sorties, to get Rich the longed-for IP, and wove the guys' testing into it. They wanted us to fly some aggressive zero G parabolas, which was weird, but even more fun! They wanted some serious zoom climbs, and up where the air is rare, too. Curious, considering what we were testing, but...woohoo!

Anyway, we flew the first 4 sorties, no sweat. We had to do this between our other duties, so this was over about 3 weeks.

For sortie number 5, we were to fly level at fl400 (40,000 ft) accelerate to 400 knots indicated, pull to vertical at 5.5 G's and fly a rudder reversal at 165 knots indicated. (I'm simplifying a bit here)
I was flying, so I did as they asked. Everything went fine, until both engines flamed out during the reversal. No big deal, thin air and a violent maneuver that basically uncoupled the intake air.

So we set up for an air start. We had both done this...I don't even know how many times. Piece of cake.

Except this time we had a problem, that we didn't know about. A fuel controller valve had stuck open and filled the burner can with fuel. When the ignitors fired, at first nothing happened- too rich a mixture. They fire repeatedly, like a spark plug, sort of.
But eventually all of the ducks got lined up, and the engine exploded.

The T-38 is called a CLT aircraft- center line thrust. Both engines sit side by side directly behind the pilots. This makes it easy to fly when one engine fails, because the aircraft doesn't try to fly sideways, like when the engines are out on the wings.
However, it places two long, very hot engines side by side, right behind you.
Here is a pic of a T-38 underside- see two exhaust nozzles in back? The engines are skinny and very long, and as you can see, packed together.

[Image: nedkaq.jpg]

Everything got chaotic, smoke, fire, wind, (wind? inside?) tumbling, pain, fire again.

I woke up 3 days later at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, in the burn ward. I had 2nd degree burns everywhere, but they would heal. My right leg was 3rd degree from hip to ankle. I would be hospitalized for 16 months and have to have reconstructive surgery and 33 skin grafts.

Initially I was in a clean room, heavily drugged, and not allowed visitors.

Finally, some time later, I think it was about 2 weeks, I was able to talk, (my lungs had been burnt) and breathe better, and I was moved out of the clean room.

Colonel Bass, my CO, came to see me. He had actually been there all along.

He told me the news. We ejected at 46,000 ft.

The ejection had been commanded by Richard's handle.

Richard died before he made it down- details were not forthcoming, and never have been given to me. I assume something horrific.

I eventually recovered fully, and returned to flight status. My leg is a mass of scar tissue, and I limp a little bit, but I was amazingly lucky. I thought.

I broke my back in Alaska, back in 2000. I spent almost 5 years in a wheel chair, while they repaired my spine. They eventually got me back together, and I got back on my feet- after physical therapy, I was back to normal- for me. All good.

Except that the doctors in Alaska fed me steroids for the entire 5 years. My spine was BAD, and swelling caused not only pain but potentially a loss of adequate blood flow and paralysis. Still... 5 YEARS of steroids? My immune system was just wrecked. Forever.

I began having frequent cellulitis in my leg. At first it was just a nuisance. It got worse. Eventually, about 3 years ago, it started getting bad enough that I would have to go into the hospital for a week or ten days of IV antibiotics.

It has steadily gotten worse. In the last 8 weeks, I have been hospitalized 3 times, for a total of 24 days.

Because of the burned flesh and skin grafts, and lack of a lymphatic system, it has gotten very difficult to treat the infections. The bacteria have gotten more and more resistant, as well. I have had to start seeing a wound care doctor, in addition to my PCP and my pain doctor. I am on so many opiates every day, the average person would not survive. I can't even feel them. I still rate my pain as a 7 or higher.

During this last hospitalization, the doctors all sat down with my wife and I to discuss my prognosis.

Apparently, this will worsen, no doubt about it. Sometime, sooner rather than later, I will check in with an infection and it will simply ignore the antibiotics. It's doing a pretty good job of that now.

But this time the infection will run rampant. It will head for my heart and brain.

The only solution- if I make the decision fast enough- is amputation.

If it was a matter of cutting my leg off at the knee...go for it. Let's do it now!

But it isn't. It's not even called amputation anymore. It's called hip disarticulation. Google it yourself, I can't talk about that anymore. It's considered 100 times worse than a leg amputation.

No way. Drug me until I die. I don't want to be carved up. And this one is NASTY. 25% don't survive the surgery itself.




I was so looking forward to being a grandpa.


That's all.

A sobering reminder to the adage you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Thanks for sharing. I will learn to appreciate more what I have from reading this story. Good luck with your decision.

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning ~ Werner Heisenberg
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes tomilay's post
27-09-2016, 07:49 AM
RE: Here goes...
Damn..... I really don't know what to say. Hug

No matter what decision you make, I am just a PM away if you ever need to chat.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes ohio_drg's post
27-09-2016, 07:54 AM
RE: Here goes...
I am so sorry. That is an awful lot to deal with. Living in pain is no joke.
Can you get 2, 3 or even 4 more opinions? Maybe that will help you make a decision?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes ShadowProject's post
27-09-2016, 08:08 AM
RE: Here goes...
Thanks, guys. Really.
You've mostly said the same things I've been thinking, which could mean you're all just as brilliant, or just as loopy, as I am. Trouble is...I don't know which. HuhConsider

I'm fighting this from two directions that are mutually exclusive and yet honorable or deplorable in their own rights. Yeah, you read that right, it makes no sense. No

One the one hand, I've never before in my LIFE thought that something like an amputation would even slow me down...in fact, my first reaction is 'Hey, as long as I still have both hands, so I can shred on the guitar!"

But then I read up more on disarticulation. I can't even find any heart warming stories about people triumphing over horrible odds to build a life of hope and prosperity!....I found one, I thought, about a 15 year old boy in a car accident, but when I went to research it, I found that he had died a few months after the story I had read about him.

Assuming you survive the surgery, which is no guarantee at all, you can't even sit down any more. You literally can't even sit down. Think about that. Damn. Going to the toilet? Not without a special seat made. Even then..it's not great.

I just don't know. Would I want to remember a grandfather like that? Maybe, if he had lived long enough to make his personality known to me, long enough to demonstrate his strength and character. But what if he died when I was 5 or so? I'd have these horrific memories, vague and frightening, for the rest of my life, of this twisted troll.

Damn. I'm just not at all sure where to go from here. I guess the thing to do is to try to beat the odds and not lose to the infection, surely, but...how do you do that? Live in a bubble? Try all of the crazy homeopathic weirdness, hoping to hit the motherload? Become Wiccan?

Notice, even now, god does not occur to me. In fact, I'm disgusted by the thought of kneeling and groveling at the feet of some holier-than-thou (death humor) omnipotent asshole gloating over my conversion.

AAARRGHGHGHGHGH!!!!!!!

You heathen bastards are ok, you know that?
HeartHugBlush

I'm going to have to try to get in touch with someone who has had this surgery. Fuck...it feels wrong to call it a surgery. This...abomination? Maybe. Fuck.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
27-09-2016, 08:28 AM
RE: Here goes...
You know what is really sucking about this? Yeah, everything, but no...

I either go in while I'm perfectly healthy and say "Cut my leg off, right here at the hip, please" , and stand a reasonable chance of surviving to be a twisted troll, or I wait until we are sure that this infection is the one that we can't beat, the one I have to give in to...and then have it done, which cuts my survivability chances in half, at least.

So I voluntarily submit to this atrocity, and the next week, a new super-antibiotic is discovered, guaranteed to kill any bacteria, anywhere.

What would alanis morisette think of that? Meh, she'd probably say it was onomatopoeiaic. That woman has no grasp of language.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes The Dark One's post
27-09-2016, 08:39 AM
RE: Here goes...
(27-09-2016 08:28 AM)The Dark One Wrote:  You know what is really sucking about this? Yeah, everything, but no...

I either go in while I'm perfectly healthy and say "Cut my leg off, right here at the hip, please" , and stand a reasonable chance of surviving to be a twisted troll, or I wait until we are sure that this infection is the one that we can't beat, the one I have to give in to...and then have it done, which cuts my survivability chances in half, at least.

So I voluntarily submit to this atrocity, and the next week, a new super-antibiotic is discovered, guaranteed to kill any bacteria, anywhere.

What would alanis morisette think of that? Meh, she'd probably say it was onomatopoeiaic. That woman has no grasp of language.

I've thought about this sort of scenario many times and believe that there is a point where even if the procedure cured the disease I wouldn't want to live with the result.
And if the undesirable procedure only improved the odds or extended my life a short while, then I don't think I would do it. Instead, I would opt for palliative care and choosing my exit.

That's where I've come to on these questions. Your mileage may vary.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Chas's post
27-09-2016, 09:07 AM
RE: Here goes...
Sadcryface Sorry to see this. I'm puzzled as to why this procedure would be used, rather than an amputation lower down. Is it really that bad? Hopefully the doctor(s) know(s) what is best. If it were me, I'd rather live. But I can't advise you any more than that.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
27-09-2016, 09:11 AM
RE: Here goes...
(27-09-2016 08:39 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(27-09-2016 08:28 AM)The Dark One Wrote:  You know what is really sucking about this? Yeah, everything, but no...

I either go in while I'm perfectly healthy and say "Cut my leg off, right here at the hip, please" , and stand a reasonable chance of surviving to be a twisted troll, or I wait until we are sure that this infection is the one that we can't beat, the one I have to give in to...and then have it done, which cuts my survivability chances in half, at least.

So I voluntarily submit to this atrocity, and the next week, a new super-antibiotic is discovered, guaranteed to kill any bacteria, anywhere.

What would alanis morisette think of that? Meh, she'd probably say it was onomatopoeiaic. That woman has no grasp of language.

I've thought about this sort of scenario many times and believe that there is a point where even if the procedure cured the disease I wouldn't want to live with the result.
And if the undesirable procedure only improved the odds or extended my life a short while, then I don't think I would do it. Instead, I would opt for palliative care and choosing my exit.

That's where I've come to on these questions. Your mileage may vary.

No, we're on the same page. I don't fear death. Last year I watched an old friend, who I hadn't seen much because he had become an alcoholic recluse who refused all help, die of cancer. He was a military pilot too, and blamed the depleted uranium rounds we fired for his cancer...not the 4 packs of Pall Malls a day he smoked, his poor diet, or severe alcoholism. Unless he was using one of those rounds for an anal dildo, I don't see...nevermind... Weeping

They did 3 or 4 surgeries trying to get all of the cancer, then they cut out his tongue, then he had a colostomy...and then he died. Total time from diagnosis to death, 9 weeks, 3 days.

Why in the hell was he clinging to life so hard? It seemed like he hated life. I knew, watching him, that I would never allow myself to be chopped up like that.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes The Dark One's post
27-09-2016, 09:13 AM
RE: Here goes...
(27-09-2016 09:07 AM)Fireball Wrote:  Sadcryface Sorry to see this. I'm puzzled as to why this procedure would be used, rather than an amputation lower down. Is it really that bad? Hopefully the doctor(s) know(s) what is best. If it were me, I'd rather live. But I can't advise you any more than that.

They had to do skin grafts from my waistline to my ankle, right above my boot. I was sort of laying sideways in burning fluids for a bit, they think, before the ejection. I have no idea. But the infections I get occur primarily in my hip and upper thigh.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: