Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dinner with the Pros

(1)Me and my sister, Bibbi
(2)Me, Junior Seau and my sister
(3)Me and Drew Brees
(4)Me and Kyle Turley
(5)Me, my sister, David Wells(L), and Billy Ray Smith(R)
(6)Me and Phil Nevin
(7)Me and Joe Horn
(8)Me and John & Holly Carney

Last night I attended a charity event called Dinner with the Pros. It was a fundraiser for TAPS (Teen Adolescent Placement Services), a wonderful organization which helps troubled teens and their families. There were many athletes from Major League Baseball, the NFL, and Golf in attendance. It was arranged by John Carney(NFL)and his wife, Holly with the help of Phil Nevin (MLB) and Tina Mickelson (LPGA). I was a guest of my friends, John and Holly, who have supported TAPS for several years. John Carney, for those who don't know, is a kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs (previously he played for the New Orleans Saints and before that the San Diego Chargers).

The event started off with a local rock band, The Fijis. They are three tenth graders who play blues and rock. For teenagers they were pretty good. Then there was a magic show with the magician Steve Spellman using pro athletes as assistants. He performed at my 39th birthday bash last year. He is humorous and very talented. The show went pretty well, except for Steve falling off the stage. After the entertaining show they showed, a tribute to friends John Carney and Junior Seau. The evening got serious when they talked about the great work of TAPS. Two teenage girls that were helped by TAPS gave their moving testimonials. The evening ended with an auction. All through the evening there was also a silent auction of sports memorabilia. It was nice to be able to mingle and talk with the athletes. I met Junior Seau(NFL; New England Patriots), David Wells(MLB; Pitcher for the LA Dodgers), Drew Brees(NFL; Quarterback for the New Orleans Saints), Phil Nevin(MLB), Kyle Turley(NFL;New Orleans Saints), Joe Horn(NFL;Atlanta Falcons), Billy Ray Smith(ex-NFL, local sportscaster). They were all very nice and all posed for pictures with me. Junior Seau gave me his autograph. I usually don't like to ask for autographs, but he offered it. It was an enjoyable night.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Trach Change

Today I went to UCSD Medical Center to have my trach changed. I usually have my trach changed about every three months by my regular pulmonologist at Sharp Hospital. My trach was last changed at the end of August. In October I had two incidents with scar tissue obstructing my trach (see blog posts of 10/15 and 10/17/2007), which led to two E.R. visits. It was suggested that I see a specialist who deals with the removal of scar tissue. At the end of the month I saw Dr. Harrel at UCSD Medical center (see blog post of 10/30/2007) who decided to order a different trach instead of removing the scar tissue. It was supposed to take about six weeks to get it. Six weeks later, there was no trach. My nurse, Ernie called the hospital to inquire about the trach. They said that they hadn't received the trach yet. But, once they got it they would have to send it out to be sterilized. They didn't expect a long wait. December went by and then towards the end of January, Ernie called again to find out what was going on. He kept leaving messages and getting no response or they said they would check it out and call back. They never did. I felt like I was getting the run around. Frustrated, I contacted a patient advocate at UCSD. She said she would look into the matter. An hour later someone from the pulmonary department called to give me an explanation about what was going on. She explained that the trach had to be sent to the VA Hospital in La Jolla to be sterilized, but they didn't have a contract to do that. Once, they made the proper arrangements with the VA, the trach would be sent there via courier to be sterilized.

They finally received the trach at the end of January. After that long wait, I was eager to get the old trach taken out and the new one put in. The new trach was supposed to be an improvement over the other one. The doctor took out my old trach, put down the bronchoscope to check out my trachea, and everything looked good. Then he inserted the new trach. It didn't fit right. The trach tube was too long. The measurements got screwed up somehow. He then tried another trach. It didn't fit. A third trach was inserted. It was too big. It was uncomfortable and I was unable to talk. I was not happy. They were going to keep it in. The nurse said I might be able to talk in a week. This was unacceptable. I made my displeasure known by shaking my head and mouthing to Ernie that I couldn't talk. When they realized that I was very displeased that I couldn't talk, the doctor decided to put in a fourth trach. This fourth trach was exactly like the original trach that they were going to change. I was relieved that I was able to talk. After all this ordeal, I was very anxious to get out of there. They wanted me to stay a while for observation. After a short time I told them I wanted to leave. When I was told I could leave, I zipped out of there in my chair at full speed. Good thing that nobody got in my way. I will come back in two months for the doctor to check things out and maybe put in a new trach.