God bless you.
As if I didn't already have my hands, head and heart full, fighting cancer and a bad
heart, for the last two weeks I found myself under attack by a stubborn cold that mutated
into a case of pneumonia that resulted in me being hospitalized for four days at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago.
At times, I not only felt so bad that thought I was going to die, I wondered if all of you
would be better off if I just--you know--got out of your way and went home to glory. My
enemies certainly would welcome such transition. But you friends and prayer partners
don't seem anxious at all for me to leave until my healings become complete.
My wife of 40 years, Joyce, is one mighty, mad soul sister. She feels that I am
mainly to blame. She's probably right. She usually is.
"You came back trying to do too much too soon, Lacy," she told me with her hands
on his hips and firm outrage on her face. "You should have done a better job of easing
back into things. You still aren't totally well. I love you and I don't want to lose you. But
you must not love me because you're not doing a better job of taking care of yourself."
That's my wife unlike ever before: firm, furious and feisty. Until now, she's always
been quiet and compliant. But she's turned adamant now and says she's sick and tired
of me "not taking better care of yourself and getting more rest."
Again, in all honesty, Joyce is right in many ways. When I returned to work full-time
about a month ago, I celebrated by working 12 straight days writing from home, covering
practices and training camps and a new games before taking off to preach the funeral
of my best boyhood friend, Henry Briscoe, who died of a massive heart attack on Oct. 26
in Kansas City. I guess I wanted to prove, first to myself, that I was doing great in my
At the time of the funeral, I had a bad cold that had cost me much of my voice. But I
toughed it out, made the trip back home to KCK and croaked out an eulogy on Nov. 1
despite being hoarse and having a sore throat. Then last weekend, I went out of town
again on a free lance assignment despite not having gotten over the cold. On Saturday,
Sunday and Monday nights, I felt the cold worsened into pneumonia symptoms of fever,
chills, sweats, fatigue, coughs and extreme congestion. When I relaxed my heart
medication for a day for an all-out attack against the pneumonia, I relieved the coughing,
the sweats and the congestion. But that allowed fluid to flood my lungs, causing
shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness and a sore chest.
So after I returned home Tuesday night, my wife marched me into Northwestern
Wednesday morning, where I was examined by Dr. Jeffrey Trunsky and admitted to the
hospital through the emergency room, where I was also treated by the likes of Dr.
Claud, Dr. Adams, then Dr. Woodrick and Dr, Vaid. Assisting them were nurses like
Annie, Robert, Kendall, Young Jung, Deanna, Luwanda and Susanna. Injections of Lasix,
a diareutic, resulted in me urinating 12 pounds of fluid within seven hours.
By the time I was admitted to my hospital room, my weight had dropped to 226.5
pounds. That marked the first time in almost 10 years that my weight had dropped
below 230 pounds. Last spring when I began my battle against cancer and congestive
heart failure, I promised to drop my weight below 230 and eventually trim down to close
to 200 pounds. But I never expected to do so through sickness.
Upon my release from Northwestern this next time, the challenge to me will be to
continue losing weight, resume regular exercise, eat more responsibly to nourish my body
losing weight and get rest when I feel tired. I already had a lot to live for in Joyce, my
daughters Nicole, Noelle and Natasha, my five grandchildren, other relatives and
friends and now there's America's new President Barack Obama. He will need you and
me to be at ourbest physically, mentally and spiritually to help him heal our nation.
God bless you.
NOTES: By the way, this has not been a perfect stay at what is considered one of
the best hospitals in America. Here are a few things that really, really disturbed me.
* During my Wednesday morning stay in the emergency room, I was given a painful
CAT scan (painful because of a mafunction in the injection of dye) that belonged to
some other patient. Hospital officials apologized, said my insurance carrier would not
be charged for the procedure and urged me to follow up and make sure that I won't be
* For whatever reason, I was listed as a diabetic, which I never have been, and fed
a vapid diabetic diet for my first two days before a correction was made.
* I was asked by seven different doctors and medical staffers to explain the medical
history and reasons that moved me to be admitted for treatment. It seems that nobody
coordinates basic information the patient gives when first admitted. So he is asked to
give this information again and again and again and again until I just refused to give it
once the seven doctor asked me at a time when I was experiencing shortness of
breath, nausea and felt on the verge of throwing up.
* After passing up breakfast, lunch and dinner because of loss of appetite on
Friday, I asked for a light fare of some cottage cheese and pineapple chunks when I
passed up lunch. I was promised the request would be considered. By 5:15 p.m., I was
still waiting for a final verdict. So my wife bought her some sugarless peach slices and
cottage cheese and let me sample some of hers.