Big to Little and Little to None


As I sit here writing this to you, Judy and Steph are on their way to Houston. With Cammie

We were not supposed to go down until Wednesday when they were going to do a full workup. Well, we began having problems with one of the two chest tubes earlier in the week. It was not draining properly. She had to go to the Emergency Room here in Dallas and have that looked at (she had accidentally pulled one out about two inches when the atrium caught on a chair as she was getting up). The short of it is that she had a high fever this morning. Judy tried to get in touch with someone—both here and in Houston.

Finally, around two this afternoon the thoracic surgeon on call from Houston called back and suggested we go to emergency here, get stabilized and then think about coming down there (he suggested by ambulance).

I am just finishing up a book on the life of Napoleon by Paul Johnson. He was a real take-charge guy. Judy is too– just not as short. But in short order she had everything organized, marshaled the troops, and decided to forget the emergency room here and just drive straight there.

It is really not a great thing to still have the chest tubes in, but there has been no other option. Even worse, the lung has not healed up and air is still escaping into her chest cavity. Our fear is she may end up losing the rest of this lung. We would love to see her keep the remainder of this lung.

Problems, problems problems.

Do you have problems?

Of course you do. Of course. We all do.

Hang with me here while I recount something that happened last summer.

Do you know how to leave Las Vegas with a small fortune? I do.

We were coming back from Seattle last and the plane stopped in Las Vegas. The guy who got on board and sat by me was from Dallas, Hispanic, and clearly had had a good time but, as he told me, had lost everything he brought. And it was going to create problems. I clucked sympathetically.

I paused a few moments and then leaned and more or less whispered to him, “Want to know how to leave Vegas with a small fortune?” Believe me, having just lost what he had, he was all ears, eager to glean anything that might help him the next time. He leaned towards me and in the same conspiratorial semi-whisper said, “Yes. Absolutely.”

The hook was set. I played with him a bit, and then looked around, making sure no one else was listening. He did too. I leaned a little closer. “The way to leave Las Vegas with a small fortune is to ….(I paused for effect)…to take a large one with you when you go.”

He stared intently, blankly. I kept a poker face, one eyebrow raised. He looked up at me, finally “got it” and burst out into laughter. “Good one buddy, good one. Excellent!”

And now I am leaning over and whispering to you; “Want to know how I have nearly eliminated all problems from my life?”

This is not a trick question.

Here it is: Just have one really significant and serious problem. Then what you thought were big problems become very small, and the little problems become none.

Not that you would want to try it, but it has worked for me.

Late November, 2004

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