Doctor day.

Today is going to be exhausting, but I hope it’s all good news. I’m counting down the rads. Today will be 4, then 3, 2, 1 (Monday). My skin is red as all get out, but I’m slathering on the lotion. I’ll have my rads, and then see the radiation oncologist. Less than two hours later, I’ll go back to get labs drawn, and then see my regular oncologist. Back to the center again in the afternoon to have an echocardiogram (because I have to do that every 3 months now due to the effects Herceptin can have on the heart). I suspect, because of severe rib pain and headaches, that some MRIs are in my future to check for mets. I’m hoping that’s all good news, too.

Yesterday, as I was on my way to the center, I was passed by five police cars with lights and sirens blazing. At first, I thought there must be an accident, but five cars? And when I got closer to the center, the sound of sirens was everywhere. When I parked and got out of my car, I heard the most ominous sound. The big siren at Ft. Detrick was blaring. Like the air raid siren that I used to hear as a child when they tested it in Houston. I thought, “Oh God, something really bad has happened.”

After I checked in and had my temperature taken, I noticed every other patient in the center standing up and staring out the window. An ambulance, the sheriff, another police car. The sound was everywhere. When the nurse came to take me back, she said, “I wonder what’s going on.” I said, “I always think ‘shooting’ when I see that kind of presence.”

I wish to God I had been wrong. Indeed it was a shooting, here in our little burg. A Navy corpsman stationed at Ft. Detrick went to an offsite facility (along my usual route to the center, but I took a different route yesterday) and shot two other sailors. Then he drove to Ft. Detrick and got a half-mile into the base before he was taken out in a hail of bullets. He had taken an AR-15 rifle and shot those men. Who knows if he was intent on doing more harm. I’m grateful for the officers who stopped him.

A friend of mine who lives outside the back gate of Detrick said she went out on her balcony to see what was going on and was ordered back inside by base personnel. It was a very frightening day here, but in all, from the first 911 call to the shooter’s death, it was only about 20 minutes. The police and MPs worked together to stop the shooter. No one has a clue yet as to a motive, but they searched his apartment yesterday (in a complex where another friend of mine lives). The community college and several other area schools were on lockdown for a brief time. I checked on a friend of mine who teaches at the college. She was working from home. The fear that gripped this town was brief, but the shock continues.

Life is so short, and we never know when death will meet us. So I tell you – live. Live like there is no tomorrow. It sounds so trite, but it’s true. You don’t know if you’ll wake up tomorrow or even see the end of the day. The two men who were shot will probably live. One was released from the hospital late last night. Both were flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore. The other man is still there, in critical condition. If he lives, maybe he can shed some light on why the corpsman (who was trained to save the lives of his comrades) shot the two of them. Was it about a woman? Money? Honor? We just don’t know. Innocent people could have been caught in the crossfire.

It makes my problems seem small by comparison. But you know, we deal with what we deal with. I’m fighting an enemy in my own body. And I’ve been under a great deal of stress. I’ve got to find a way to deal with the stress, but I can’t seem to get the words out that I need to say. But I have to, or it is going to cause me even more grief. I’m going to meditate on that today between appointments.

Tomorrow I get the next infusion of the biologics and rad 3 in the countdown. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It might burn me, but it also might just save me.

~Jude

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