Saturday, December 06, 2014
Surgery that is. I knew it was going to happen but until yesterday, I couldn't put my finger on a calendar and show you that date. It was just a fuzzy, non-specific thing. Something that was to be scratched off a to-do list. It wasn't a big deal. I assigned it little relevance...just something I needed to do and move on.
But it is a big deal.
On January 16th, I will be admitted to Seton Medical Center in Austin Texas. On that day, Doctor and ENT Surgeon Peter Scholl will cure my cancer. He will do so by removing my larynx, possibly my thyroid and every lymph node in the general vicinity. We didn't come to this decision lightly. The cancer that seemed to be in remission since February 2012 has now begun a counter-offensive to reclaim that territory.
I'm not going to let that happen. I've come too far, I've made long-term plans to help Reglue reach out to even more kids than previously scheduled. I don't have time to dally around with this cancer and the recovery any longer than necessary. But most importantly, I am Diane's caregiver. I have to be here.
I can put a thin veneer of protectant around that attitude and hold onto it, but the fact remains...
Things will never really be the same. I won't be able to eat like you...not for the first couple of months. I will undergo an extensive rehabilitation therapy. I will have to re-learn how to breathe, eat and talk. Until I can do that, I will receive nutrition via a feeding tube. But the biggest thing...the thing that is most important to me?
How I will communicate with people. I talk to dozens of people a week. Many of
them on the phone. My options here are few. There is one procedure that might let me speak close to the way I talk now. Unfortunately that will not work for me. Other issues with this surgery scratches that from my options list. There are text to speech options that can help and I will rely upon that technology to make it happen. But that other thing?
Yeah, I'm not going to be that guy.
That guy that holds a battery-powered device to his throat to talk. The device that translates the vibrations at the throat into a harsh, robotic voice. When I was 11 years old, I was in a pool hall with my oldest brother and the guy that worked the counter and cash register used one of those and he scared the hell out of me. What I find most disappointing is that the technology used 50 years ago hasn't improved much at all. Not for that device anyway.
I'm not gonna be that guy. Ever. I'd rather walk away from everything to avoid burning that image and sound into a child's head.
I've been working the past two weeks to find a Linux solution that might work for me...a way to translate text to speech. It's been a nightmare. I don't want to insult anyone or damage any feelings, but apps such as Festival just are not ready for prime time.
I'm not going to go into all the issues again. I made these statements on my G+ account. Some of the most techie folks I know admitted they had given up on making Festival and Espeak/Gspeak work. And no...I don't want to wrap an app with a distro that uses it out of the box. Even those apps are shaky at best, at least when it comes to text to speech. Besides, I am going to have to be able to use this speech method on the fly. Having it housed in a complete operating system will just produce way too much overhead.
So will I return to work at Reglue? I most certainly will but I need to get this behind me so I can see what I have left to work with. The one thing I just won't do is worry about money. A full third of what I do is fund raising. It's arduous to say the least and I despise doing it. But as in all endeavours...Reglue skids are greased by cash. As much as I wish that wasn't so, it is. We are in our last week of our annual fund raiser so if you want to go by the site and look at some of the new and reduced-priced perks, I'd appreciate it. We are barely over 50% of our goal with a week to go.
Because after all the smoke clears, it's obvious that without you, we wouldn't exist.
Good friend and old Army buddy Gene Molden mentioned that if my keynote was my last speaking engagement, then I went out on top. It was a lot of fun to give.
And with that, I will leave you. I'm sure I will post here again before I am admitted to the hospital but I want to make sure to tell you to enjoy the holiday season and be good to each other. And one way or the other....
I'll talk to you soon.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 1:26 PM