It was Tuesday, October 20, 2005, 7:40 A.M. Been up most of the night going to the bathroom.
I had been drinking TONS (alright, maybe not TONS but a lot) of water to help push out
a small but very pesky kidney stone that had made its home in my body and was refusing
eviction. Then I noticed that my left hand, arm, chest, and left leg felt numb,
(like my hand was asleep), and my chest had this aching indigestion-type feeling;
I called my doctor!
Ring, ring, ring’¦
Me: ‘Honey, Mehaffey isn’t around (Mehaffey is my doctor/ best friend – the kind of guy that
would give you his own kidney).
Wife: ‘Why are you calling him?’
Me: ‘My arm is numb and my chest aches. You know, it’s probably nothing. If it was Mehaffey
would have answered.’ (This is the crazy logic my brain uses to get out of not doing what
I’m supposed to be doing.)
Me: ‘I think I’ll call my dad.’
I explained everything to him.
Dad: ‘You have to take some aspirin and go to the emergency room!’
Me: ‘Do you think so?’ (I’m still trying to get out of what I know is right and makes
perfect sense but I had a really important meeting at 10:30 with two spectacular
radio personalities, Dean & Rog. I had to make the meeting!
**Side Note: If you are ever in Houston and you want to hear the funniest, most articulate
morning show in the United States, put the dial on 93.7 FM, ‘The Arrow’. These guys put everyone
else in the radio business the shame! They tear it up!
Me: ‘My dad says I should go to the emergency room, can you take me?’ Of course I’m
a grown man and could easily have driven myself (theoretically), but I turn into a small
child and let my wife take care of me when I am ill.
Wife: Looking concerned. LaTeace really loves me and puts up with more crap from me than
I know anyone else would. She’s my lobster (you’d have to be a fan of the T.V. show Friends to
understand that last line). It just means I’m the luckiest guy in the whole world to have her.
Wife: ‘Alright, let’s go!’
Me: ‘Do you think I should shower? My hair is messed up.’
Wife: Giving me a look could stop a herd of buffalo in its tracks.
Me: ‘Ok, ok’¦ no shower but I’m wearing a baseball cap.’
Wife: ‘Let’s go!’
In Transport To The Emergency Room
With The Emergency Clinic In Sight
Me: ‘Honey, did you notice there is a funeral home across the street from the emergency clinic?!’
Honest to God I’m telling the truth!
I continue: ‘What a set up! If they don’t save your life all they have to do is cross the
street and drop you off and they are done with you.’
At the clinic I ran into an old friend ‘” John Stroh. He’s a great doctor! The first time
I ever met him was in an emergency room for bronchitis, and the very next day after my visit
he personally called me at home to make sure I was doing better! He was holding a book
on Texas Hold ‘˜Em. This man has no poker face. He can’t lie’¦ which is a bad quality to have
in an individual if they are trying to play poker. He assured me it was only a nickel, dime,
and quarter limits game, and I felt better. He does however play a good game of chess.
Sorry, I keep getting side tracked. Sara Rose (an x-ray technician, very nice but apparently
hard on jewelry ‘” she had lost a few stones from her rings) took me in the back for a few
x-rays. When everyone was done Dr. Stroh said, ‘I’m 40% sure you’re fine.’
I was thinking I could get a better bet down in Vegas. Forty percent sure
that I’m ok means 60% don’t know.
Dr Stroh: ‘We are going to admit you to the main hospital. An ambulance is going to take
you there. We are going to continue doing these enzyme tests that will eventually get
us 70% sure and then 90% sure and so on. But it’s going to take all day.’
My wife and I had to part company. She basically threatened me with bodily harm if I let
anything bad happen to me. Funny, if it was my time to go I’d better change plans because
nobody wants to see a mad Teacie!
I arrived at St. Luke’s Hospital, and I must say, it is a fantastic HOSPITAL!! When I die
– not today, hopefully – I’m leaving a boat load of money for these guys. They treated me
like a superstar! One of the first things I heard when I was admitted was a nurse in the
cardiac care unit talking on the phone with somebody that was obviously perturbed (pissed).
Nurse Lori: ‘Look, he doesn’t qualify to be in the cardiac unit. He weighs over 200 pounds!
You are going to have to put him someplace else. There is no room for him here!’
That’s when she hung up. I was in a good sized room with maybe a dozen beds each with their
own curtain divider that could be pulled all the way around. The nurse station was up front.
Universal bathroom was to my right.
Nurse Lori: ‘Put him in bed #4 ‘” after the weigh in.’
Panic raced throughout my body! This is a chest pain center for wealthy/insured
guys who are
basically in good shape (not overweight) and woke up this morning concerned they might be
having a heart attack! Because of the kidney stones, my body was retaining over 10 pounds
of water (found this out later) so I was concerned that even with my incredible weight
loss in the last year, I would be put on this fork lift of a scale they got and weigh over
200 pounds and be shown the door!
Nurse Buela (nice lady, has a son that wants to be an electrician ‘” he’s 20 and drove her
to work this morning way too fast. I found out when I left she was taking the bus home instead
of having her son pick her up to be safe): ‘Alright, Mr. Cuellar, come on over and stand on
the scale.’ Now I know what those weight challenged people feel like on the T.V. show,
Biggest Loser, every week. She states, ‘Alright, 191.7 pounds (87 kilos).
You can make
yourself comfy right over here.’ She pointed to stall (bed) #4.
Me: Whew! I made the cut!! I felt like a kid who was chosen first when picking sides on a
I would spend the next eight hours of my life getting poked and prodded (blood drawn, E.K.G.,
blood pressure, temperature, etc.). During my short stay I overheard the nurses go over
our charts; hear foreign languages come from different stalls; hear wives doting over
husbands they were probably chewing out just yesterday for not picking up their clothes.
I noticed a lot of things from stall #4. The most important
was the world
did not come to an end or pause to take note that I might not be in it much longer. President
Bush did not come on television and say, ‘We need to take a time out from the war in Iraq
and Hurricane Wilma to give a shout to Fred in stall #4 at St. Luke’s Hospital ‘”
we’re rooting for you and hope you feel better soon.’ Besides my wife, mom and dad, and a
few close friends, the world wasn’t particularly bothered that I might not be in it anymore.
That’s when it hit me ‘” my father (the greatest dad in the world ‘” mom you’re the best too)
told me that Arlington Cemetery is filled with men that thought they were indispensable.
Everyone will eventually check into a hospital, or hospice or go the wrong way down a dark
alley and not get another chance to be here another day. Fortunately, for me ‘” my time is
not up. I get to do all the things I love to do for at least another second, minute, hour
or day. I get to love.
Talk to you next time.