Home again! The simple things bring joy.

After 10 days in Harris HEB Hospital, my wife Lyn is finally home again.  She has a painful 8 weeks of recovery ahead of her after open heart surgery.  But, Dr. David Carter says she will eventually be as good as new.

I wish I could thank each and every one of you individually for being so gracious and loving to Lyn and my family during this challenging ordeal over her heart attack.   I want you to know how grateful I am for such good friends, wonderful neighbors, a great hospital, great doctors and nurses and all of your prayers for our family.   God answers those prayers, we are living proof.

This experience has been full of surprises, and the most revealing to me is how the simple things bring joy.   Seeing Lyn rise from bed on her own, sit in a chair, shuffling off to the potty by her self all have been cause for celebration over a double by-pass.   The biggest joy of all so far this week was putting her in the back seat of the car and driving her home from the hospital.   We puttered along slowly, trying to avoid bumps and sudden turns, every little movement seems to make her chest hurt and will until the sternum heals solid.    Still, she smiled knowing we would soon pull up in the driveway at home.

She is adjusting well to a new bed and being back in the house.    I never realized how warm our master bedroom gets during the day, too many windows are making that a bit uncomfortable for her, but I am working on solving that problem.    She spent the afternoon in the cooler den sleeping in her favorite recliner.   What a joy to see her peacefully dozing there covered with her grandmother’s quilt.   I am soaking in every moment with her I can, I came so close to losing her and I now realize just how important these moments are.

Our girls are so glad to have mommy home again.  While she can’t drive them to dance, soccer or harp lessons right now, while she can’t make their favorite lunches or climb to the second floor to put them to bed yet, they are so glad just to have mommy back under our roof.   Just being here is enough.   The simple joys are enough.

God bless you all for your support.  I look forward to seeing you again next week on NBC-5.

Angels among us!

I have been off the air at NBC-5 for the past week, not by design but on purpose. I have gotten hundreds of emails from many of you wanting to know where I am and what’s up. As I have told my close NBC-5 family I work with every day, this past week, this has been one of the most emotional and trying weeks of my life, but knowing and feeling the love and prayers from all of you has been a great source of strength for both me and my wife Lyn..

We almost lost Lyn this week. Some times we don’t stop to realize that every day is precious, and that for the Grace of God there go I. Angels have been watching over her since, and those angelic wings first put her mother in the right place at the right time.

Monday afternoon, Lyn collapsed at her children’s store. By a stroke of luck, her mother works for Lyn and noticed her in the restroom chair. She called me and then called 9-1-1. I was on the way to the television station at 2pm when I got the call, and the Colleyville Fire Department Paramedics beat me to the store. They were huddled over Lyn running EKG’s and IV lines when I got there. She was white as a sheet, cold and wet and not able to talk. The paramedics told me she had suffered a heart attack. A heart attack at age 37? She seemed to be in perfect health.

An ambulance rushed her to Harris HEB hospital, where she went through a battery of tests that for the most part did not indicate a heart attack. But, a sharp ER Doctor by the name of Adrian Church noticed a tiny blip of an enzyme in her blood panel called Troponin, one of three enzymes that indicate heart attack. He said he thought it was just a false positive, since everything else was normal, but ordered another blood test just to make sure. That test saved Lyn’s life! The test an hour and a half later showed the troponin level had doubled, and hourly tests thereafter tracked rapidly increasing levels of troponin.

Cardiologist, Dr. Mike Duran, said there was something going on he just could not see on the scans available in the ER. So, he ordered up a cardiac catheterization test early Tuesday morning. He told me the test would take about 30 minutes and didn’t expect to find anything he couldn’t fix with a cardiac stint. A half hour went by, then an hour, and an hour and 15 minutes a nurse came out and said the doctor wanted to talk to me. I expected this talk, but I did not expect what happened next. As we entered two sliding glass doors, the nurse told me “you need to prepare yourself; your wife is in imminent danger of sudden death!” What? She said the catheter test did not go as expected, and Dr. Duran then took the next 20 minutes showing me live action scans that showed the rupture/dissection of the left main branch artery of the heart and the rupture of a second artery on the right side. He said we had about an hour to get into open heart surgery and do a double by-pass to prevent permanent damage to Lyn’s heart muscle. He told me he had already place a balloon pump into Lyn’s heart to assist her blood flow and prevent another imminent heart attack. He said the open heart operation was risky and rare, but the alternative of not operating would be fatal for Lyn within hours.

My world reeled, I felt weak in the knees, Lyn was knocked out in the operating room beyond the glass, I could see her but could not talk to her, and I couldn’t discuss the situation. There was only one decision, go with the odds and place Lyn in the hands of Surgeon David Carter. I quickly called a good friend, Surgeon Dr. Bob Sewell, who told me Dr. Carter was his choice to operate on his dad’s heart. With a pedigree reference like that, I felt Lyn was getting the best shot possible.

From that moment on things became a blur; I have never personally witnessed a medical team move so quickly and so precisely. Dr. Carter’s team at Harris HEB had Lyn prepped and on a heart lung machine within an hour and started the procedure. Karen, Dr. Carter’s surgical nurse, called my cell phone at every break to tell me what was going on. Dr. Carter warned me to prepare for a long afternoon, and he meant it. Lyn’s operation from start to finish took almost 8 hours, but Dr. Carter described it as “text book.” He fixed her heart and she will live to tell the story, what little of it she can remember. Because of the anesthesia medicine she doesn’t remember much, except leaving her store in an ambulance.

Lyn’s recovery sped along for a while, Dr. Carter took her off the respirator 2 hours earlier than anticipated and off the heart assist pump a full 3 hours ahead of schedule. She is breathing and beating on her own and making progress every minute, but she is now feeling pretty sore and the pain ratchets up as she moves around as ordered by the nurses. That said, this is all pretty miraculous, given that what Dr. Carter says happened to Lyn is the exact same thing that happened to actor John Ritter and Tim Russert, a blockage then dissection/rupture of the main stem left artery, an event he called “the widow maker”. Her personal physician, Dr. Rebecca Sharp, says given all of Lyn’s test results in the ER, and her lack of family history of heart problems, she could have been sent home with the diagnosis of indigestion. If that had happened, and almost did, Dr. Sharp says Lyn would most likely have died within 12 hours.

We are now 6 days into this adventure in medicine, and Lyn has just been moved to a Cardiac Step Down room, where she can begin the process of rehabbing and preparing to go home (soon we hope). This will be a long road home however, 6 weeks of healing the sternum in her chest and in her leg that gave up an artery to fix her heart. But, fix is a good word, because Dr. Carter tells us her heart is fixed, and pathology suggests the likelihood of this happening again is extremely remote.

I cannot express my gratitude enough for wonderful staff and doctors at Harris HEB, and especially our young ER doctor Adrian Church who refused to ignore a tiny blip on a blood panel. We have been so blessed by dozens upon dozens of friends who have come to the hospital giving Lyn their love and support. My older children Parker, Kylee and Xander have shared in the shock, sorry and now joy for Lyn. She is improving daily, finally out of the ICU where she can visit with our little girls who miss mommy dearly.

Lyn will now have a battle scar to remind her of this adventure. Strange how it sometimes takes a brush with death to appreciate how precious life really is. This experience has indeed been sobering and gives me a greater appreciation of how blessed we are to see another day. I hope to be back with you again on NBC-5 soon, but for now my mission is to get Lyn back home, safe and sound so we can get mommy well again.

God bless you all.

4 north Texas Guardsmen killed in Iraq.

They are part time soldiers who shoulder full time risk.   They are our neighbors who put themselves in harms way to serve in the Texas National Guard.  Their families sacrifice greatly so they can serve us in wars and national disasters, like hurricane Ike.   Thursday, we lost 4 of our neighbors, who died in the crash of a CH47 Chinook helicopter while flying from Kuwait to Balad, Iraq north of Baghdad.    They were attached to the 2-149th Regiment of the General Support Aviation Battalion based in Grand Prairie.

You have likely seen these big twin bladed helicopters flying over north Texas, you can hear them coming, making that unmistakable big “wop wop wop” sound.   They are the work horses of heavy lift for the military, and have a pretty good safety record.  But, when something goes wrong on one of these big boys the result is often catastrophic, like it was near Balad Thursday.  

Colonel Bill Mehan with the Texas Army National Guard tells me the best he can get out of the Pentagon tonight is the aircraft experienced a malfunction and went down killing everyone onboard, a total of 7 soldiers gone, 4 from the Grand Prairie unit and 3 from the Okalhoma National Guard.   Say a prayer for our friends and their families tonight.   I will share their names after the families are officially notified.

Wedgewood massacre, still emotional 9 years later

9 years ago tonight, I dashed off the anchor desk and rushed as fast as I could to Wedgewood Baptist Church in southwest Fort Worth.     A crime of unspeakable magnitude had taken place.   47 year old Larry Gene Ashbrook walked into a prayer meeting, started cussing and then pulled out a gun and started shooting.   

 

When it was all over, Ashbrook had killed 7 people that night.   I spent that evening in the street with a camera and microphone broadcasting live on NBC-5, trying to wring information out of Ralph Mendoza, who would later become Fort Worth police chief.  It was a tough night for everybody.

 

Things got a lot tougher, and more emotional, when deep into the night came one of the most ugly questions I think I have ever heard pass the lips of another reporter.    Pastor Al Meredith had come out, struggling with the pain and sorrow of the mass murder in his church, but he graciously stood for our questions.   Then, suddenly, these words came blurting from a reporter behind me (whom I will not name); “Pastor Meredith, where was God tonight?”

 

My heart sank, my mind raced to figure out how I would answer that question.   Pastor Meredith could have lashed out, indignant about the carelessness of that question.   Instead, he stood like a rock, tears flowing down his face, and said “he (God) was in the church with those killed tonight, and he is with us right now.”  

 

Pastor Meredith strengthened the faith of many people that night.   He could not bring back those young lives snuffed out by Larry Gene Ashbrook, but he helped keep faith alive in the hearts of many.   Here is his version of that night and his sermon of hope after the tragedy.

 

 

 

Good Riddance! The last season opener at Texas Stadium

This is the season opener at Texas Stadium tonight.   The Cowboys taking on their arch rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.  13 years ago I was one of the many Cowboys fans who ponied up a bunch of money to go to the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles game at Texas Stadium.   I did the 6pm news, and then ran to the car and raced toward Irving for that Monday night game.   At least I rushed for a few miles, until I hit the snag.    The traffic was horrendous, rush hour mixed with the Cowboys’ crowd translates into absolute gridlock.

The game started at 7:30, and I was no where close to the Stadium.    8:30 came and went, and I was still not there, stuck on Airport Freeway, inching along.   I finally got the the stadium by 8:45pm, but when I showed up with my Blue lot pass, chains were up blocking the way, not a parking spot available, even though I had a parking pass!    I was one unhappy camper!

I finally got parked and into the stadium during half time, DURING HALF TIME!   I don’t remember much about the game, except my tickets were good, only half a dozen rows behind the Philly bench.   I took my frustration out on the boys in green, although I can’t even remember who won that game.

A memory made, and a reason why I dislike Texas Stadium so.   I am really looking forward to a better experience in Arlington.    Bring on 2009.

MapQuest new and improved

I love MapQuest, use it all the time, and now comes what may be a new and improved dashboard of local searching that some experts are saying could be a game changer.

If you like widgets and creating your own personal start page, this may be your cup of tea.   Take a look here.   MapQuest beta.

Gates & Seinfeld, new comedy team

I saw the ad today, and I thought that can’t be, Microsoft mega billionaire Bill Gates and mega comedian Jerry Seinfeld doing an television commercial?    Yes, it is true, yes it is a bit weird and I must admit I think it is funny.    This is an interesting marketing plan, take a look at Silicon Alley Insider.



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